London Telegraph, July 3, 1991

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London Telegraph

UK & Ireland newspapers


Costello slows down the beat

David Cheal

It's quite an achievement to perform 24 great songs in one evening and still send your fans home complaining that their favourites were not among them.

But then Elvis Costello does have one of rock's richest repertoires. And it was this richness which was the most impressive aspect of his concert at the Hammersmith Odeon. He was called back to perform four encores, yet by the end of the show he had still barely disturbed the catalogue of his collected works.

When Elvis Costello first emerged in the late 1970s it was clear that he was a major talent: his debut album, My Aim Is True bristled with instantly memorable songs.

It was clear, too, that he was not a very happy man. His lyrics oozed anger and vengeful bitterness, and his live performances were famous for their consuming passion and emotional intensity.

Today he has changed, physically, almost out of recognition — he now sports a flowing beard which looks as though it was purchased in a joke shop — but his misanthropy has barely abated. Who else, after all, could enter into a call-and-response singing session with his audience on the subject of fear of death?

But Costello as a live performer is not quite the frantic bundle of creative energy of yesteryear.

Once he would deliver his songs at speeds similar to those achieved by West Indian pace bowlers; these days he knows the value of restraint and he is all the better for it.

This was especially true of the slower numbers such as "Couldn't Call It Unexpected" (yet another example of Costello's eagerness to experiment with waltz time) and his sultry rendition of Mose Allison's blues classic "Everybody's Crying Mercy But They Don't Know The Meaning Of The Word."

The drummer brushed gently at his kit, the bassist plunked delicately, and Costello simpered with great feeling.

In fact the show threatened at one point to become so low key as to be soporific, but finally Elvis and his extremely efficient five-piece band trotted out a string of delicious old favourites: "Red Shoes," "What's So Funny About Peace, Love And Understanding" (this was definitely the night of the long titles), "Alison," and finally "Pump It Up."

His fans went on their way happy, but they were still talking about the ones that got away.

Tags: Hammersmith OdeonLondonThe Rude 5Everybody's Crying MercyGod's ComicCouldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4Pete ThomasJerry Scheff(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?AlisonPump It Up

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The Daily Telegraph, July 3, 1991

David Cheal reviews Elvis Costello with The Rude 5, Monday, July 1, 1991, Hammersmith Odeon, London, England.


1991-07-03 London Telegraph page 16 clipping 01.jpg

Page scan.
1991-07-03 London Telegraph page 16.jpg


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