Elvis Costello's career can seem so refined it's possible to lose sight of the fanatic in him. His recent covers album Kojak Variety — named after a Barbados department store close to the studio it was recorded in — formed the basis for last night's one-off performance which featured the Attractions and special guest guitarists James Burton and Marc Ribot.
The concert proved to be a labour of love for both the artiste and the audience — accent on the word labour.
Costello was not in the best of voices, a bit of a shame since American radio was taking it live, and Elvis's enthusiasm for obscure material by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, The Supremes and Mose Allison didn't translate.
Given the breadth of songs on offer — Ray Noble's "The Very Thought Of You" up to Aretha Franklin's "Running Out Of Fools" — you still couldn't escape the samey quality of the delivery.
Burton's hot-licks pepped up a pretty soggy start once he came on to add that country twang to "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down," but the Attractions were muted and Costello's vocal limitations showed that he's not quite as versatile as he thinks he is.
I suppose it's typical of critics to nitpick when a chap is only trying to entertain, but the level of chat among the crowd told a sorry story, even rockier numbers like Little Richard's "Bama Lama Bama Loo" and Little Willie John's "Leave My Kitten Alone" fell foul of the general malaise.