Edinburgh Scotsman, March 21, 2017

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Edinburgh Scotsman

UK & Ireland newspapers


Elvis Costello

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

David Pollock

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For those fans investing in a slice of late-period Elvis Costello live action – and there were many of them here – it's an all-or-nothing experience. Anyone hoping for a cheery, nostalgic run-through of the wide range of punk-pop hits Costello wrote around 1980 will be … well, not disappointed, because Costello is an astute curator of his own legacy and most of them appeared here.

Yet every other Costello appeared too: the latterday rock anthropologist delving into genres from Creole blues to Southern gospel and Irish folk; the capable crooner who duetted with Burt Bacharach; and Declan MacManus, his real identity, Irish-­Liverpudlian son of music hall performer Ross MacManus and grandson of cruise liner trumpeter turned street ­corner Depression-era busker Pat MacManus.

That Costello was here for this third-from-final date on his Detour tour without any other musicians only added to the sense of biographical intimacy. Dressed in black shirt and trousers and a bright red fedora, his occasionally over-studied sense of showmanship hadn't deserted him, but the rawness of two dozen songs for guitar or piano spread out over two-and-a-half hours told a tale; these were songs which held stories for him as well as for the audience, making for a deeply immersive experience.

He delved into the mind of a wealthy presidential autocrat amid "A Face In The Crowd" and "Viceroy's Row"; remembered his father, "Birkenhead's musical link between Dizzy Gillespie and Jimmy Shand," before the sublime lyrical precision of he and Bacharach's "Toledo"; delivered "Veronica" with breakneck briskness and "Alison" while off-mic with hymnal delicacy; and brought almost funereal levels of heartache and regret to "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" and "Oliver's Army."


The Scotsman, March 21, 2017

David Pollock reviews Elvis Costello solo, Saturday, March 18, 2017, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland.


2017-03-21 Edinburgh Scotsman photo 01 rm.jpg
Photo by Rob McDougall.


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