Review of concert from 1999-11-10: Plymouth, Pavilions
Western Morning News, 1999-11-15
- Kirstie Newton


Music Review

Kirstie Newton

Over-long set lacks familiarity

Elvis Costello, Plymouth Pavilions

IT'S easy to forget just how many hits Elvis Costello has had over the last 20 years, as most people only remember Oliver's Army, or Watching the Detectives at a push.

So his set at the Pavilions was impressive, not least in its length. An hour after Elvis had said his first goodbyes, we were still there. With six encores, one can have too much of a good thing.

Costello is a real showman, a confident performer with a superb voice. Pianist Steve Nieve, the lone Attraction who has been with Costello throughout his career, is equally talented, with many of his lush and sweeping accompaniments worthy of a classical soloist.

Between them, they offered the audience a varied programme, switching from acoustic to synthesised arrangements and embracing every style of music, from pop (Radio Radio, Pump It Up) rock, blues and ballads, including the sublime Shipbuilding and She from the film Notting Hill.

For the hard-core aficionados, and there were many present, this was a real treat. But the more casual fan may have found it a bit much.

It was good to hear all the hits again, but the accompaniment was often too loud, obscuring Costello's witty and poignant lyrics, and there were far too many unknown songs which elicited polite applause.

Personally, the biggest disappointment was the way he romped through Oliver's Army like he was sick to the back teeth of it.