The Concert Hall of the Opera House played host to a different range of people on Monday night. They certainly were not there for symphony orchestras, but for the English rock star Elvis Costello, one of the best singer-songwriters to emerge from the British new-wave explosion of the late seventies.
Costello's lyrics are word plays that describe anguished love for political and social concerns. His music style is a varied repertoire of fifties rock 'n' roll, country and soul influences.
He played a cross-section of his songs on Monday night, including the bitter-sweet love song "Alison," the reggae-based hit "Watching The Detectives" (from his first LP, My Aim is True), and two of the best numbers from his successful Punch The Clock album, "Let Them All Talk" and "Everyday I Write The Book."
But the concert seemed aimed at the devotees; Costello chose not to play many recognisable or hit songs, opting instead for the more-obscure tracks from earlier LPs. The only other song from his latest LP was the slow ballad "Ship Building," which he said he wrote on his last trip to Australia.
He also chose to do six or seven new songs, and, while they sounded good, it was difficult to understand the lyrics, which is essential with a Costello piece.
The sound was at times muddy, though the Concert Hall probably was not designed for such high decibels.
Elvis Costello and the Attractions will wrap up their third visit to Australia with a concert on May 30 at the Entertainment Centre.