‘1 2 3 4… blood and chocolate…’ elvis costello fires up in brighton last night
‘…you think it's over now, but we've only just begun…’. from the opening ‘uncomplicated’ to the still relevant, triptych of ‘what’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding / shipbuilding / pump it up’ given an extra frisson by ending with a poignant ‘scarlet tide’, costello and his imposters opened their british gigs here in ‘hometown boy’ drummer pete thomas’s brighton.
a two hour tempered onslaught of controlled vitriol and uncontrolled passion. despite a few hiccups – one guitar deciding to sound decidedly dodgy whenever used, leading elvis to give us a spot of unamplified crooning on ‘nothing clings like ivy’ and encouraging a keyboard break – the prowling, almost arrogant presence of mr costello provided us with a huge a swathe of his very impressive back catalogue and highlights from ‘the delivery man’ , songs that are top notch - ‘from monkey to man’ shows he’s not lost the (r)evolutionary plot.
‘watching the detectives’ elided gloriously into ‘riot act’. how many performers have you seen sing into an over-cranked guitar pickup and make sounds of delta doom? he’s a bespectacled behemoth, with a be-bearded steve nieve, whose hands wafted over a theremin, and a bespoke rhythm section of pete thomas and (far from imposter, but not quite emmylou) davey faragher.
quite a roll on from that first time i saw him play in brighton in ‘77 on the stiff records tour, and through many guises and combos since… (that magic solo glastonbury set with added attractions encore set, the weird live aid pop-in, the wheel of fortune albert hall show, confederates without tears, a roundhouse attractions reunion, ‘the juliet letters’, stand out amongst dozens of his gigs i’ve seen)… it’s still a thrill to be in the presence of his wondrous, beautiful music.