Even to one with a catalogue as extensive as Elvis Costello's, the routine of heading out on the road yet again and working your way through the staples must seem an onerous task on occasion.
So for his Revolver tour, Costello has spiced things up by jettisoning the setlist and instead deploying what he calls a “showbiz model” – a large fairground-style rotating wheel decorated with the names of about 40 songs, with crowd members invited up to spin it and dance to their own random selections in the “go-go cage”.
It's a set-up, at the very least, which required fluent versatility from Costello and his three-piece band, both in terms of the volume of his own songs and the number of covers learned. Under this arrangement, for example, a young couple chose Chuck Berry's No Particilar Place to Go and Bob Dylan and the Band's "This Wheel's on Fire," and heard them played as a medley featuring extended segments of Costello's own "Payday" and "The River in Reverse." Also necessary was an easy sense of interaction with his crowd, and Costello played the part of fairground ringmaster well, stepping into the cage to dance along with fans, strolling through the audience to holler the lean funk of "Bedlam" and introducing his brother Ronan MacManus' band BibleCode Sundays for the tender folk of "American Without Tears" and "Little Palaces."
The machine fortunately found itself rigged continually towards the end of the show, allowing Watching the Detectives and "Oliver's Army" to make a necessary appearance, while the powerful politics of "Tramp the Dirt Down" and "Shipbuilding" were removed from the lottery. Their presence was not only necessary, but breathtakingly effective.