Fri 8 Jul 2022
It’s the morning after the night before and I’m still dazed after a rollercoaster ride watching a revitalised Elvis Costello ripping up the rule book and giving many of his most popular songs a total overhaul. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the best of starts and I was bracing myself for a long night. As it happened it was a late one but thankfully enough of those early rough spots had been ironed out by the time the 130 minute show came to an end.
Quite frankly Costello’s voice was all over the place on the opener Accidents Will Happen and the next track Green Shirt. The sound was a bit of a mess too but it did improve as did Costello’s vocals. It was an extended version of his first hit Watching The Detectives that marked a significant gear change with Costello’s magnificent band The Imposters laying down an incredible groove, allowing the star of the show to take the song wherever his fancy took him.
Costello’s spikey guitar work was prominent throughout the show. In the old days – his first Ipswich show in 1978 referenced a few times by the man during the show – Steve Nieve’s keyboards were to the fore but not so much these days. The decision to bring in Texan guitarist Charlie Sexton into the band for this tour was a masterstroke. A cool looking character with a guitar collection to match, Sexton exuded swagger and confidence without ever raining on Costello’s parade. Sexton is one of Bob Dylan’s guitarists of choice – enough said.
Costello is quite the raconteur when he puts his mind to it. Thankfully he was in a chatty mood taking in his Twitter spat with Rod Stewart, telling us how much he misses the Little Chef on the A11 (yeah, right) and name-dropping Lowestoft – as you do.
It was an opportunity to plug the latest album of course with several songs from The Boy Named If taking pride of place in the set. That CD is Costello’s best for quite some time but inevitably it was the old stuff that fuelled the show.
Driven by the immaculate drumming of Pete Thomas and brilliant bass playing of Davey Faragher the audience lapped up a long version of (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea and the frantic Pump It Up. Most acts would have left it there but not Costello. He slowed it right down with Don Gibson’s country classic Sweet Dreams and a classic of his own – Alison.
Anybody expecting carbon copies of his greatest hits might have exited the auditorium feeling short changed. The rest of us left the place happy in the knowledge that he remains a force to reckoned with. He took no prisoners!