Sydney Daily Telegraph, April 9, 2011

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The king of spin


Kathy McCabe

Elvis Costello is devilishly good, so he says. And why wouldn't he be?

The family — wife Diana Krall and their young sons Dexter and Frank — are well and last year's National Ransom album was another winner on the creative front.

The downsides? There won't be another series of his excellent interview and music-making Spectacle TV series and Costello isn't bringing his chocolate wheel to Australia.

Fans can comfort themselves about the lack of future verbal and musical jousting between Costello and guests from Bill Clinton to Bruce Springsteen by watching the DVDs of the two series.

As for missing out on the Spectacular Spinning Songbook, which will determine the setlist of American concerts this year, we'll just have to do what Australians do best at shows — scream out unintelligible requests.

"I don't think it would work outdoors," Costello says about leaving the wheel at home.

"You are only called upon to play for short amounts of time at festivals and it is a bit difficult to allow for people coming up on stage to spin the wheel at a festival."

Costello, like many of his peers, is thinking hard about his recording and performing future.

It's not due to age or a lack of audience but the paradigm shift in the music industry.

"I have concluded a 33-year cycle of making records in the conventional sense with National Ransom," he says.

"When we made it, I understood people would want to get it in the [convenient] digital format. What you give up in portability you can get back if you have the time to listen to a copy of the record on vinyl. Then you can hear what we intended it to sound like.

"If you look to the future and records don't have a lot of future for many people, then you have to look to all the unusual ways you might present music. I don't think all the answers lie on the internet; it's convenient but so were carrier pigeons once."

The relationship with his fans remains constant. But that makes planning a setlist harder than you might imagine — if you're not using the chocolate wheel.

Costello has reached that point in his career where the children of the parents who fell in love with his New Wave post-punk literate rock in the late '70s and early '80s have discovered Mum and Dad's record collection.

"I have to strike a balance between the person who knows the most and the person who knows the least," he says of his audience.

Elvis Costello And The Imposters, State Theatre, Market St, City; April 19, from $119, East Coast Blues And Roots Festival, April 25-26

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The Daily Telegraph, April 9, 2011


Kathy McCabe profiles Elvis Costello ahead of his concerts with The Imposters, Tuesday April 19, State Theatre, Sydney, and Sunday-Monday, April 24-25, East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

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