British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello is usually associated with the genres of pop, new wave and punk rock. But on his latest release, Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, the prolific musician treads country and bluegrass territory.
Costello hasn't performed in Atlanta in quite a while, having canceled a show at the Tabernacle in April 2008 after the tornado hit downtown. But Atlantans heading to Tennessee for Bonnaroo this weekend can catch his solo show under one of the festival's tents.
Costello talked about the festival, his new album and his favorite Atlanta venue:
There's a lot of intricate accompaniment on the new album. How will you pull off these songs in a solo performance?
Well, it would have been great if we could have come in with the Sugarcanes. We're performing shows on either side of that weekend, but unfortunately those guys were already booked — I think a couple of them are actually on the Bonnaroo site — to play with other artists.
I really liked my [previous] experience playing at Bonnaroo and I like playing solo. I have a broad repertoire I can play. I can play some of the songs from this new record, but I can play basically anything I want. Plus a couple of friends are actually on the bill, so ... it's highly unlikely it will be an entirely solo performance. It's a fantastic bill. I only wish I didn't have to leave for North Carolina. There's a number of people that I want to see. Unfortunately a couple of them are playing the exact same time I am.
I have a question for you. How's the Tabernacle doing? Has it reopened yet?
Yes, it has. It reopened last may with a Dream Theater show.
That's good news. I look forward to try to get back now before too long because I have an outstanding date there that we had to cancel and I really like that venue. It's the best place to play in Atlanta, that's for certain.
It's a much smaller venue than Bonnaroo. What are your thoughts on performing a solo show in front of such a large audience?
I've had so many different experiences playing, so you never really know. This is in a tent, so it won't be that very many thousands of people, unless it's a huge tent.
The biggest audience I think I ever played to solo was about 300,000 in Rome, and I was opening for the Pope. No, I wasn't. They have some big festivals in Europe and it's sometimes really daunting because they don't even understand what I am saying. I'm a complete dunce with languages.