Liverpool Echo, June 26, 2008

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Liverpool Echo

UK & Ireland newspapers


Review: Elvis Costello, Philharmonic Hall

IT WAS a homecoming gig in the truest sense of the word.

Jade Wright

IT WAS a homecoming gig in the truest sense of the word. In the hall where his mum worked as an usherette, Elvis Costello returned to his roots to perform some of his favourite songs.

And the capacity crowd lapped up every note.

Joined by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Elvis revisited extracts from his first full scale classical orchestral work, Il Sogno, and showed off new arrangements of some of his best-loved tracks.

Kicking off with the haunting All This Useless Beauty, the first half showcased some of Elvis’ more experimental works, including How Deep Is The Red, She Handed Me A Mirror and He Has Forgotten Me Completely from Secret Songs, written for the Royal Danish Opera about Hans Christian Anderson.

The second part focused on more familiar ground, as Elvis revisited some old favourites, each with a new twist.

From Green Shirt – complete with percussion performed on a type writer – to Watching The Detectives, God Give Me Strength and Veronica, he drew from every era of his career.

And it seems his voice is only getting better with age. Backed by the breathtakingly beautiful RLPO, he was a singer at the top of his game.

And the audience appreciated every note, cheering uproariously at every opportunity.

The biggest applause, unsurprisingly, came for the sublime Shipbuilding, along with an outcry of booing when Thatcher was mentioned. A suggestion, perhaps, that beneath last night’s smooth orchestral facade, at heart Elvis is still that same political firebrand we have come to know and love.

Although, at times during the concert, I found myself longing for more of it, for the rougher edge that made his name when he played every week at the Temple Bar off Dale Street in the mid-70s.

But then that wasn’t what the night was about. Only Steve Nieve remains from the Attractions, and this certainly wasn’t a rock’n’roll show, instead embracing opera, jazz and swing.

As he launched into the encore, he treated us to yet another genre, stepping into Motown as he merged Alison into Smokey Robinson’s Tracks Of My Tears.

And that was what the night was about. Pushing determinedly at the generic boundaries, Elvis refused to wallow in the past, reworking his old songs at every step of the way. Surely, that’s what this cultural year is all about.


Liverpool Echo, June 26, 2008

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


2008-06-25 Liverpool 10.jpg


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