The Grand Theater (at Marina Bay Sands) could not have gotten a more appropriate baptism than to host the legendary singer-songwriter Elvis Costello's solo performance last night. This was Costello's second gig in Singapore, after appearing at the Esplanade Concert Hall in 2009 during the Sun Festival.
This time around, Costello focused very much on his "oldies" – at least thirteen songs from his first six albums (circa 1977 to 1982). And so for this romantic diehard, it was an absolute treat to witness Costello weigh into such classics such as "Watching the Detectives," "Red Shoes," "Alison," "Radio Sweetheart" (off My Aim Is True), "Pump It Up" (off This Year's Model), "Green Shirt," "Oliver's Army" (off Armed Forces), "Hoover Factory," "New Amsterdam" (off Get Happy), "Good Year For the Roses" (off Almost Blue) and "Beyond Belief," "Almost Blue" (from Imperial Bedroom).
The last track mentioned, truly left a lump in my throat, a gorgeous jazz-inflected beauty that Costello delivered with heartfelt emotion and power! As a singer-songwriter-performer, Costello's lusty performance was instructional as he commanded the almost sold-out venue with dynamic vocal and nimble guitar fingers.
The new Grand Theater seems comparable to the Esplanade Concert Hall, although less classy in terms of decor, it looks like a good alternative venue for gig organizers certainly. However, at the very beginning, Costello opted to open with a minus-one "National Ransom" and the sound was distorting so badly that it actually hurt my ears! Thankfully, once Costello strapped on a guitar, the sound settled down nicely. I liked especially how Costello used distortion effects on his acoustic guitar for some of the harder-edged songs.
All in all, Costello played a two-hour set and the crowd were well-satisfied at the end. Would really love to see him perform with a full band still though… what do you say, Elvis?