Manchester Evening News, October 11, 2003

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Manchester Evening News

UK & Ireland newspapers


Elvis Costello at Bridgewater Hall

Mike Barnett

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There has been some less than complimentary comment of late concerning Elvis Costello, or more accurately, his personal life, the vicissitudes of which he has committed to record on his latest album, North.

A suite of songs chronicling the breakdown of his 16-year marriage to Cait O'Riordan, once of The Pogues, and him taking up with glossy jazz chanteuse Diana Krall, My Aim Is True, his debut album from 1977, it most certainly is not.

And that's precisely the point, for in the intervening 26 years, Costello has rarely done what anybody expected, not least, though he might not care to admit it, himself, and North is a perfect example of his unpredictability.

Accompanied only by long-term musical lieutenant Steve Nieve, a pianist of depth and expression, he displayed just what a peerlessly timeless and versatile songwriter he is.

The emotion of the new material was laid out for all to hear; listening to it was a cross between being a fly on the wall at confession and hearing the final admissions of a condemned man.

"Someone Took The Words Away" was stark and bare, as was "When Did I Stop Dreaming?," a song which betrays the clear influence of Burt Bacharach, Costello's collaborator on Painted From Memory in 1998. "When Green Eyes Turn Blue" was beautiful and romantic.

From his extensive back catalogue, "God's Comic" was full of cheeky vaudeville charm, his anti-war song "Shipbuilding" was delivered with a scabrous and unapologetic knowingness, while he milked the applause which followed "A Good Year For The Roses" with a look on his face which seemed to say "that's some song, isn't it?"

In truth, it was an expression he could have worn at any time during the two-and-a-half hour gig.


Manchester Evening News, October 11, 2003

Mike Barnett reviews Elvis Costello and Steve Nieve, Friday, October 10, 2003, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, England.


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