Elvis Costello at Vicar Street, Dublin

Vanessa Monaghan: GoldenPlec.Com There always seems to be one or two artists that you say ‘I wouldn’t mind seeing them’ but never get round to, Elvis Costello was one but I was still unsure what to expect. Upon entering the venue the first thing I notice is that the audience seems to be more 40 and 50 somethings. Not surprising though when you consider Costello’s first release was in was in 1977 and has an impressive 29 album back catalogue. Younger readers may know Costello from his Austin Powers appearance or his Christina Aguilera cover in the TV series ‘House’. From the first notes of ‘Mystery Train’, it becomes apparent that Costello, along with his backing band ‘The Sugarcanes’, will be treating us to some country and bluegrass. Following ‘Blame it on Cain’, Costello, introduces the band which features Jim Lauderdale, a successful country bluegrass artist in his own right. Tracks from last years ‘Secret Profane & Sugarcane’ album feature highly in the set list but Costello paces them nicely with well known songs from his repretoire. A medley of ‘New Amsterdam’ and ‘Hide Your Love Away’ get the biggest cheer of the night so far, until the following song ‘Good year for the Roses’, for which Costello tips his hat to the audience. The lack of a drummer isn’t noticed on stage and the arrangements of well known songs seem like they may have been written in the bluegrass/country genre. The on stage presence of accordion, mandolin, lapsteel, double bass, and beautiful vocal harmonies make the evening more special. Costello continues, mixing brand new tracks with classics, getting the audience to sing along to ‘Red Shoes’. He also chooses to cover the Grateful Dead song ‘Friend of the Devil’ while a re-worked version of ‘Everyday I write the book’ leaves Costello with the audience in the palm of his hand. The band leave the stage only to return a minute later for an encore, if you can call it that. This was really part two of the show, kicking off with the well known ‘Girls Talk’ and then ‘Spell You cast’ from last year’s album. Costello doesn’t talk much but when he does, he is very witty. He telling the audience they would be too old to go to a Dylan concert and recalling himself on the Dylan show and the kids were ‘sitting on the floor wearing their beany hats wondering if he was the guy from The Buddy Holly Story’. A second encore shows that the band seem to be genuinely having fun and enjoying themselves, with Costello holding his guitar high to the audience, almost whispering and motioning that he’ll do one more. Beautiful versions of ‘Alison’ and ‘Shipbuilding’ blend seamlessly with newer material, the night ends as all musicians leave the stage apart from double bass and lapsteel who end the evening. Two hours of pure entertainment and fantastic musicianship, I lost count after twenty five songs and Mr Costello never undid his suit button" -