Liverpool Daily Post, June 26, 2008

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Liverpool Daily Post

UK & Irish newspapers

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Elvis Costello

Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

Richard Down

A Liverpool lad with a transatlantic accent last night earned seven standing ovations at the venue where his "mam" once worked as an usherette.

Elvis Costello, with the help of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, breezed through opera, jazz, film scores and even classical scores.

The opening song, "All This Useless Beauty," from his 1996 album recorded with The Attractions, however, began with the simple strum of an acoustic guitar.

From this point on, the first half lurched through some difficult and unfamiliar material.

A duet with "Swedish nightingale" Gisela Stille played out the story of Danish children's author Hans Christian Andersen and his doomed infatuation with soprano Jenny Lind.

The three Secret Songs that made up this segment were accomplished, but Costello had to work hard to involve the audience.

Despite his efforts and a fine Chet Baker inspired rendition of "Almost Blue," the sheer range of styles and material gave the audience a lot to digest.

Warm applause greeted old friend "Greenshirt," at the beginning of the second half.

This was followed by the three-chord rock of "Veronica," which blossomed into a sweeping orchestral arrangement.

By the time he introduced "Shipbuilding," which still feels raw today, the audience was enthralled.

A combination of big band songs and medleys kept the pace high.

He then blasted out two numbers coauthored with Burt Bacharach before abandoning his mic to whisper the last song, earning tireless applause.

Many artists simply hire an orchestra to pad out their songs, afraid or incapable of taking greater risks. Last night, Costello's range challenged the audience and left them wanting more.


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Liverpool Daily Post, June 26, 2008


Richard Down reviews Elvis Costello with Steve Nieve, Gisela Stille and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Wednesday, June 25, 2008, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England.

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