Jakarta Post, October 11, 2009

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The Jakarta Post

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A good night for everyone


Felix Dass

Elvis Presley might have died years ago. But Elvis Costello is still alive and kicking.

There's always a rush of adrenalin when people see a legendary musician performing live, and it was no different when Elvis arrived on stage.

Elvis gave a fantastic performance to more than 2,000 people at the Singapore Sun Festival 2009 held at Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore.

The festival holds a combination of music, literature, film, visual arts, cuisine and wellbeing events, branched together under the umbrella, "The Art of Living Well".

In its third year, the festival committee chose Elvis Costello to perform, believing he fit in with the theme, and audiences love him. And they did. He gave a remarkable performance.

With more than 30 albums to his name and more than three decades in the industry, it's no surprise Costello delivered a mind-blowing performance.

During his career, he has worked with other notable performers such as Jimmy Cliff, Sir Paul McCartney and Burt Bacharach. He has also collaborated with an orchestra, which has since been made into a record.

But importantly are his lyrics, which have had a lasting impact. His lyrics have been heard right around the globe, inspiring millions of people for more than 30 years.

Elvis' audience in Singapore was no different. Music-goers in the concert hall enjoyed his performance backed by his support band, composed of five guitars, bass and drums.

"I don't know what you want to hear so I'm just gonna play them all," he told his audience at the show's start, before he launched into playing some of his greatest hits.

He opened the set with his 1979 single, "Accidents Will Happen", which his Singaporean audience cheered enthusiastically.

Some would say his performance was as good as hearing all your favorite jukebox songs in the one evening.

He played almost all his hit songs: 1981's "A Good Year for the Roses", "Everyday I Write a Book", and even his first chart single, "Watching the Detectives" from his 1977 debut album My Aim is True. You name it, he played it.

He entertained from start to finish. His charismatic personality, along with a live performance's "raw" element, kept the audience's attention for the entire duration.

He also shared his impression of Singapore with his audience, saying he admired the Esplanade Concert Hall's grandeur.

"I've never performed in a more beautiful building than this," he said, which made the crowd go crazy, making everyone who attended feel special.

"A few years ago, I stopped over in Singapore on my way to perform in New Zealand," he said. "And now I can't believe I am back here to perform in this very beautiful venue."

An extraordinary day for his audience and just another day "in the office" for him, Costello looked as if he was having a ball. He finished the show with "Alison", another well-known hit from his 1977 debut album, which the audience joined in.

After wearing their voices thin, clapping and stamping, he came back onto the stage and grabbed his guitar. He finished with a finale including "She", his pop hit from 1999's Notting Hill soundtrack, and "Oliver's Army".

It seemed the concert had ended, but he surprised the audience with another encore, much to their delight.

The audience's enthusiastic applause was a good indicator he'd put on a good performance. He showed his audience the art of living well.

Mission completed.

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The Jakarta Post, October 11, 2009


Felix Dass reviews Elvis Costello solo, Monday, October 5, 2009, Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore.


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