City Life, May 14, 2012

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City Life

UK & Ireland magazines

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A show with a bang: Elvis Costello

Apollo, Manchester

Chris Slater

Unemployment, a recession and an unpopular Tory government. Not much has changed since Elvis Costello was in his pomp in the late 1970s and 80s. Yet it was a very different Elvis that graced the stage tonight.

Many artists now look down on the greatest hits parade and only play new material. But Elvis has embraced his back catalogue with a fun, unique and distinctly Hollywood approach to the show. Hardly surprising given his new role as US chat show host.

For this tour he has cast himself as a 1950s gameshow host with the stage adorned with a huge wheel, containing titles from dozens of his hits. Costello brought delighted audience members up to the stage to spin the wheel which would choose the next song.

"These people's enjoyment of the next five minutes depends on you," he told the first lucky contestant Helen, whose choice of "Everyday I Write The Book" did not disappoint.

The format meant Elvis and his band had to be extremely versatile. But supported by original members of The Attractions — keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas — they rose to the challenge. They even deviated from the wheel playing "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" after a special request.

The wheel delivered enough to keep everyone in the audience happy — from "Accidents Will Happen" to "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea," they were all there. And that was before the hit-laden finale.

For the middle section of the show, the band left the stage and allowed Elvis's powerful voice to get the focus and attention it deserves. He also seized the chance to make a few, almost nostalgic, political statements.

"This is a democratic show, which is more than can be said of the country" he said before slamming Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and The Sun. He also gave an outing to "Tramp the Dirt Down," a number in which he fantasises about stamping on the grave of Margaret Thatcher.

Band back, the crowd were soon back on their feet as Elvis wrapped up the show with a bang. On stage for nearly three hours he hardly paused for breath as he rattled off another stream of hits including "Peace Love and Understanding" and "Oliver's Army."

As fans danced their way out of the Apollo, they were left in doubt — Elvis may have left the building but he's definitely cemented his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Tags: Apollo TheatreManchesterThe ImpostersEveryday I Write The BookThe AttractionsSteve NievePete ThomasDeep Dark Truthful MirrorAccidents Will Happen(I Don't Want To Go To) ChelseaTramp The Dirt DownMargaret Thatcher(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?Oliver's ArmyRock and Roll Hall of Fame

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City Life, May 14, 2012


Chris Slater reviews Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Saturday, May 12, 2012, Apollo Theatre, Manchester, England.


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