The Word, April 2006

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The Word


My Flame Burns Blue

Elvis Costello with The Metropole Orkest

Graeme Thomson

The delivery man explores his Dutch jazz leanings on My Flame Burns Blue

In July 2004, Costello, pianist Steve Nieve and the 52-piece Metropole Orkest performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague. Although the limited rehearsal time is occasionally apparent on this live document, the sheer weight of conviction Costello brings to the party just about holds it all together. The bespoke set list is typically diverse, although the old war horses should probably have been rested. Everyone is having buckets of fun on a samba makeover of "Clubland," but listeners will be applying a fixed grin by the second or third spin. The noble "Almost Blue" plods, while I'd gladly go to the grave without lending my ears to yet another lurching version of "Watching The Detectives."

On the strength of "Can You Be True?," the undervalued North album could have provided many more worthy inclusions. For while snapping and swinging with élan, Costello is a balladeer at heart, and the principal pleasure here lies in the hushed, unheralded jewels, dusted down and scrubbed up: "Upon A Veil Of Midnight Blue" reveals itself as one of his loveliest torch songs.

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The Word, No 38, April 2006

Graeme Thomson reviews My Flame Burns Blue.


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