It seems amazing that Elvis Costello has been around for just over a decade, but even more incredible is that he has still produced excellent songs throughout this period. Last Saturday El (?) made a welcome return to Newcastle playing his heart out through a set lasting almost 3 hours and getting through some 50 songs.
Probably one of the secrets of his success is his constant reworking of old material and his willingness to look for new influences, which has brought him to work with some great American session musicians, The Confederates, including James Burton, who not long ago was accompanying another great Elvis, in the same unpretentious manner. It was these musicians who led us through tracks from the King of America album as well as a large selection of new material which hopefully may appear on record soon.
But some of the most spellbinding moments came when Costello sung alone, performing simple more basic versions of classics like "Shipbuilding" and "I Want You." Here, his voice showed great versatility and range, emphasising the sharpness and humour of his lyrics which has characterised his songs from the early days; during "Tokyo Storm Warning" he stopped several times to explain some obscure references, and now we finally know what a "Japanese God Jesus Robot" is.
He obviously enjoyed playing on the Tyne again, and the audience who participated in his performance were reluctant to let him leave the City Hall finally resorting to switching on "The Big Light." All in all the best concert you're likely to see at this venue. Nik Kershaw eat your heart out.