In 1986, Elvis Costello faced the quandaries most artists with big catalogues face — how to "do" it live, please everyone and, of course, please themselves. The answer was a spinning wheel emblazoned with tracks and themes from across his career that the audience spins in order to determine setlists.
With the impeccable Imposters behind him, Costello – and alter ego Napoleon Dynamite – revived the Revolver tour across the US last year to critical acclaim. The National Ransom album was the newbie this time and, understandably, features heavily, but older numbers bring the warmest reaction from the LA crowd. "Watching The Detectives" is jazzily protracted; "No Action" now punches harder. "I Want You" scrapes magnificently against the audience’s comfort levels as a crooning Costello fluffs lines, spits bile and generally reinvents the song. If there’s one complaint, it’s that any element of chance is lost — the CD, understandably, can’t replicate the spinning of the wheel, so it sounds like a standard gig.
This cruelly limited set (1,500-only) comes with a plethora of trinkets and elaborate packaging, which detracts from the slick live performance depicted within. Still, as a trigger for the "standard" release, due in 2012, it's a damned desirable artefact.