Review of concert from 1999-11-15: Manchester, Palace Theatre
Manchester Evening News, 1999-11-16
- Kevin Bourke

 

Triumph as modern Elvis shows his aim is still true ELVIS COSTELLO Palace Theatre

MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS November 16th,1999

VERY few modern pop artists have managed to delight, infuriate, intrigue and provoke quite so consistently as Elvis Costello over the last three decades. Perhaps only Dylan, Morrison and Young can boast quite such a catalogue of complexity and yet still he continues to rage against the complacency of so much modern popular music and to refuse to stand still.

Last night, accompanied just by Steve Nieve on the keyboards as he was at the Apollo several months ago, Costello proceeded to gleefully reinvent vast chunks of his back catalogue whilst also treating us to a bevy of new material from the numerous projects he's currently working on. This included a songcycle called The Delivery Man, a film called Prison Song and some plain and simple new songs.

Typically, Costello took the stage in semi-darkness, laying into a raucously confrontational affair called Alibi.

Costello and Nieve stunned the audience again with a relatively familiar tune, the Man Out Of Time from his lush Imperial Bedroom period, remodelled and stripped back to a state where it resembled nothing so much as the spooky sort of thing you might expect to hear accompanying an old black and white film chiller.

So it continued, with the audience not so much comforted by a stroll through some familiar favourites from Costello's older albums as expected to engage with those songs quite as vigorously as the artist himself seems determined to do.

This approach could only too easily have antagonised but was accomplished instead with such a likeably self-deprecating and good humoured attitude that Elvis emerged unbowed and triumphant.

His aim, it seems clear, is still true.

KEVIN BOURKE

Caption: Elvis Costello . . . still refusing to stand still