Rip It Up (Adelaide), February 18, 1999

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Rip It Up (Adelaide)

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Elvis Costello & Steve Nieve

Festival Theatre, Sun Feb 14

Ian Bell

Well it must be said that any pangs of regret about not being able to attend the Beastie Boys show the same night evaporated as soon as Elvis Costello bounded onto the stage.

It also must be said this is not going to be an altogether unbiased review. One of the joys of Costello is that he doesn't stand still musically, refuses to get trapped in his audiences expectations and, if you allow him to, always takes you on a journey. Tonight was such a journey.

Stripped right back to just the stylish piano of long time collaborator, The Attractions' Steve Nieve, and his own sometimes heavy-handed but endearing guitar, this is the ultimate way to see Costello — basically just a great singer songwriter, singing great versions of his great songs. In stunning voice and high humour, he plundered his extensive catalogue and we got the treasure.

Delving as far back as "Radio Sweetheart" along with a raw version of "Watching The Detectives" with up to several stunning cuts from his latest project with Burt Bacharach, Painted From Memory, the set list wasn't so much a 'greatest hits' as a vivid reminder that songs like "Indoor Fireworks" (from King Of America) and "Poor Fractured Atlas" (Blood & Chocolate) were never chart topping singles, but Jesus H Christ, they are as well crafted, intelligent and moving, and just plain fantastic songs as you could ever wish for.

The magnitude of the Costello/Bacharach numbers though had to be experienced to be fully appreciated, managing to be both classic Costello and pure Bacharach simultaneously. "Toledo" and "What's Her Name Today" were both terrific, but it was "I Still Have The Other Girl" and the astounding "God Give Me Strength" that had Sunday's audience erupt into rapturous applause and several standing ovations.

It was brilliant to hear "My Funny Valentine" on Valentine's Day, and "I Want You" tore the house down. The best moments started just before 9pm, peaked around 11pm and haven't quite finished yet. Beasties who?

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Rip It Up (Adelaide), No. 510, February 18, 1999


Ian Bell reviews Elvis Costello & Steve Nieve, Sunday, February 14, 1999, Festival Theatre, Adelaide, Australia.


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