Sydney Morning Herald, January 31, 2013

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His songs have final word

Elvis Costello And The Imposters / State Theatre

Bernard Zuel

As tempting as it is to defer to giants such as Barnaby Joyce and Cory Bernardi, let's grant science its higher ground on global warming. Let's even concede a crackpot parent or two on the hippie coast may not know more than decades of research and – sorry – facts, on immunisation.

But tell me this, oh wise lab coat-wearers: how is it this normally audience-participation-averse grouch got such a kick out of the way people selecting the next song by a turn of the spinning songbook were hamming it up in the go-go cage?

Why did a song on that wheel, which isn't even one of Elvis Costello's best ("Mouth Almighty"), get me excited?

And, most of all, explain to me this, brainy boffins: how is it that I can't tell you for sure what I was doing this time last week and I dread being asked for my password every time I log on at the office but I can remember every word of "Radio Radio," released in 1978; every syllable of the densely packed lyrics of "Beyond Belief," released in 1982; and can without knowing I've thought about it, join in exactly when bassist and backing vocalist Davey Faragher comes in on "Monkey to Man," released in 2004?

To be fair, even if the spinning-wheel moments dragged on a bit, it's not like any of us were really spending much time pondering the imponderables for the two hours Elvis Costello, Pete Thomas, Faragher and Steve Nieve roistered and rollicked.

Nor did we ask much when the Imposters rocked in the kind of show where regular nerdgasms (oh wow, "Heart of the City"; oh yes, "Long Honeymoon"; oh my, "High Fidelity") left middle-aged men and women hot and sweaty. And not just because the cold-phobic Costello seemingly had had the airconditioning set about five degrees hotter.

If the opening and finishing bursts of four songs done without pause didn't straighten out all your creases, then "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down" would have finished the job. If a tender "All this Useless Beauty" didn't fully crack open adult romance then "Indoor Fireworks" would have split the difference.

Maybe George Pell is right after all, science doesn't have the answer and sometimes you just have to believe in a higher power. No, not God, silly; the songs.

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Sydney Morning Herald, January 31, 2013


Bernard Zuel reviews Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Wednesday, January 30, 2013, State Theatre, Sydney, Australia. This review also appeared in The Age.


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