Brighton Argus, February 4, 2005

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Brighton Argus

UK & Irish newspapers

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Elvis Costello and the Imposters

Dome Concert Hall, Brighton

The Argus

Performing in Brighton this week is a bespectacled ex-computer programmer born Declan McManus.

Sorry, you're washing your hair?

Well, it might help to know that, back in 1977, Mr McManus decided to change his moniker, taking his mother's maiden name as his surname and his first name from the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

It proved a wise career move — as Elvis Costello, he's established himself as one of the most acclaimed songwriters of modern times.

In his 25-year career, Costello has flirted with almost every conceivable genre — punk and new wave, rock, country, pop, reggae and even classical.

This concert, however, is likely to draw heavily on tracks from The Delivery Man, his latest album which was released to rave reviews late last year — and that means we can expect to hear the strong influence of Americana.

"The Delivery Man is actually a character I imported from a song I wrote in about 1986 for Johnny Cash," says Costello.

"He's based on a real character, a man who confessed to murdering his childhood friend 30 years later, having been in prison for a number of other things. I've thought about that character a lot and what happens to people who commit crimes in childhood. A number of the songs on the album relate to The Delivery Man story."

As all this implies, the album has an American roots theme. It was recorded in Mississippi and features Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams.

Neither will be accompanying him on tour but he will be ably supported by backing band The Imposters — two of whom (drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve) were original members of Costello's first group, The Attractions and have been playing with the singer since 1977.

In that time, Costello has had massive success with early hits such as "Oliver's Army," "A Good Year For The Roses" and "Everyday I Write the Book."

Commercial territory is not his preferred hunting ground, however.

"Every time I have a hit, it becomes a burden," Costello explains. "It becomes a thing you've got to drag around for the rest of your career.

"There has got to be more to life than having been famous for half a dozen songs. So I took a different route."

The resulting journey was reflected by his collaborations with such wideranging artists as ska-punk heroes The Specials, pop godfathers Paul McCartney and Burt Bacharach and jazzers such as the Charles Mingus Orchestra and his current wife, Diana Krall.

This restless ecleticism is perfectly represented by the fact that on the same day as he released The Delivery Man, Costello also released a full-length orchestral work entitled Il Sogno, which features the London Symphony Orchestra.

For all his musical wanderings, however, most of his fans will be pleased that Costello is restricting himself to a three-piece backing band for this rare Brighton appearance, allowing his articulate lyrics and bittersweet melodies the space they deserve.

It's his relatively straightforward songs that are held in the highest regard and the sparse setting should reveal those from The Delivery Man as among the best of his spectacular career.

Starts 8pm, tickets cost £26/£24.

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The Argus, February 4, 2005


The Argus profiles Elvis Costello ahead of his concert with The Imposters, Wednesday, February 9, 2005, The Dome, Brighton, England.


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