Liverpool Echo, May 14, 2012

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Liverpool Echo

UK & Irish newspapers

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Elvis Costello, Liverpool Empire theatre


Liverpool Echo

Some would argue, where gigs are concerned, that if the concept isn't broken, don't fix it.

But Merseyside's own Declan McManus – better known to the world as Elvis Costello – has decided to break the mould with his spinning wheel show and combine the cheesy razzmatazz of an American TV quiz show with the conventional stage show.

It's certainly tongue in cheek, but works for both the audience and the man himself, whose galactic ascent to megastardom in recent years through his US TV show has clearly brought the showman out in him.

The premise is that he drags members of the audience up and gets them to spin the wheel, and whatever song it stops on, he and his tight three piece play.

Prior to all this he struts round the stage with a cane and trademark hat as some kind of hybrid of the Joker and the Riddler.

The problem with leaving the set list to chance is that there are some songs that are obviously more popular with the crowd than others.

Maybe, like any US TV quiz worth its salt, it was fixed, or maybe fate really was smiling down on the packed Empire, for everything you would have wanted to hear and more was belted out in that trademark sandpaper-on-vocal-chord voice: the exceptional "Accidents Will Happen," the positively cinematic "Watching the Detectives" – which is so narrative it could be the synopsis of a TV show – and the brilliantly-crafted "Every Day I Write The Book."

The songs came thick and fast, despite the interludes, including the stomping "Oliver's Army" and the frantic but super-tight "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea."

But the real highlights were the haunting "Shipbuilding" and "Alison," which is arguably one of the rawest, most uncompromising love songs of the late 20th century.

When he dragged to the stage ex-Pele front man Ian Prowse for a duet of "Ferry 'Cross The Mersey," you could have been forgiven for thinking Costello wrote it, given his inimitable voice and style.

This was a novel concept (with the amusement of Top Of The Pops-style dancing from the audience members dragged up) but, while it added some extra laughs to the proceedings, the music proved that it's the songs that really do all the talking.

9/10 Hats off

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Liverpool Echo, May 14, 2012


The Liverpool Echo reviews Elvis Costello & The Imposters with guest Ian Prowse, Sunday, May 13, 2012, Empire Theatre, Liverpool, England.

Images

2012-05-14 Liverpool Echo photo 01 dm.jpg
Photo by David Munn.

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