Elvis Costello Vaerket, Randers

Gaffa.DK: Ole Rosenstand Svidt: 27th September 2014

Costello er 60 og har ingen grund til at være utilfreds, og det har hans publikum heller ikke

Mange legendariske internationale musiknavne har besøgt Randers-spillestedet Værket gennem tiden: Willie Nelson, Grinderman med Nick Cave, Faces, Crosby & Nash, Joan Baez, Rufus Wainwright, Chuck Berry (dog i sin karrieres absolutte efterår) og Tom Jones for blot at nævne nogle få, og nu også den engelske sanger og sangskriver Elvis Costello.

Costello har fra og med debuten i 1977 udgivet hele 23 album i eget navn – med eller uden backinggrupperne The Attractions og The Imposters – samt en række samarbejdsalbum med så forskellige kunstnere som den klassiske kvartet The Brodsky Quartet, sangskriverveteranen Burt Bacharach, New Orleans-pianisten Allen Toussaint, hiphop/soul-gruppen The Roots og mange flere. Costello er nemlig ikke for fastholdere, men kaster sig rask væk over den ene genre efter den anden – post-punk, pop, rock, jazz, klassisk, blues, soul. Ofte med et vellykket resultat. Manden er med andre ord et stort og alsidigt talent, og dertil en fremragende sangskriver.

Costello, der i sidste måned fyldte 60, er for tiden på soloturné, og han havde samlet en udsolgt Store Sal på Værket lørdag aften. Arbejdsredskaberne var seks guitarer – fire akustiske og to elektriske – samt et keyboard, der dog først skulle komme i brug ved ekstranumrene. Da Costello sidst besøgte Danmark, havde han band, et lykkehjul og en danserinde i bur (!) på scenen, men i aften bestod scenografien blot af et lysende skilt med påskriften "On air", som om vi var i gang med en radio- eller tv-optagelse, og ellers smagfuldt, dæmpet lys.

Costello var vanen tro ulasteligt klædt i mørkt jakkesæt, vest, lys hat og de karakteristiske kantbriller, og han lagde ud i det rockede hjørne med den energiske "45" med distortion og huggende akkorder på den akustiske guitar. Her var Costellos vokal dog lidt svær at opfatte, og nummeret var ikke den allermest lovende begyndelse på aftenen. Heldigvis var det, som om en sol gik fra skyen under de efterfølgende, mere afdæmpede numre, hvor hans karakteristiske, vidtfavnende vibrato-stemme kom betydeligt mere til sin ret sammen med det nuancerede akustiske guitarspil, hvor akkord- og fingerspil umærkeligt flettede fingre. De altid velskrevne tekster kunne nu også tydeligt høres.

Den veloplagte Costello udnævnte tidligt i sættet aftenens tema til at være "love and deceit", altså kærlighed og bedrag ("så har vi sange nok til tre aftener") og en sådan var "Veronica", hvor Costello stemmemæssigt kom højt op i omkvædet i sangen, der i øvrigt er skrevet i samarbejde med Paul McCartney.

Et tidligt højdepunkt var den bluesede "Ascension Day" skrevet i samarbejde med New Orleans-jazz/blues/soul-pianisten Allen Toussaint efter Katrina-orkanen i 2005. Et andet var "Harry Worth", ifølge Costello inspireret af et par, som han havde mødt tilfældigt ved deres bryllup – de befandt sig på samme hotel – og havde set flere gange de følgende år, inden kvinden "løb med min bassist." En skarp lille sang om kærlighedens op- og nedture, så kynisk, som Costello kan skrive dem: "Five years had passed 'til I happened along / He said, "Do you hear that noise? Well, that once was our song" / I looked in her eyes and saw barely a spark / He laughed too loud then he drank until dark".

Den smågroovy "Come the Meantimes" fra sidste års fornemme samarbejde med The Roots satte gang i call-response-sang, hvor Costello nærmest snerrede "Am I only talking to myself" ud i rummet og fik svaret "no" tilbage mange gange. Det fik den i forvejen gode stemning til at stige yderligere i intensitet.

Costello tog sig mellem numrene god tid til at fortælle anekdoter, for eksempel om da han havde mødt og indspillet med Johnny Cash, som han havde truffet gennem deres fælles ven, sangeren og sangskriveren Nick Lowe – som engang var gift med Cashs steddatter Carlene Carter. En dag ringede det på døren, og udenfor stod en mand i sort og præsenterede sig som "Johnny Cash" – det må have været stort. Herefter fik vi Cashs "Cry, Cry, Cry". Umiddelbart før sang Costello "Song With Rose", et nummer, han havde skrevet med en anden Cash, Rosanne (datter af Johnny og hans første kone, Vivian) og som viste hans countryinspiration – den mand har en bred, men god smag. Som Costello nævnte, spillede Rosanne Cash i øvrigt for nylig på Værket.

Endnu en sjov historie fulgte om, at Costello var ankommet til hotellet dagen før koncerten og i receptionen havde spurgt, hvilke attraktioner (no pun intended) man kunne se i Randers, og fik svaret: Regnskoven eller Graceland. Og så blev det altså sidstnævnte, for "Jeg hader aber", lød det fra Costello, der tog sit kunstnernavn – han hedder i virkeligheden Declan Patrick MacManus – som noget af en provokation kort før Kongens død i 1977. Han blev dog mødt med venlighed, da han ankom til den randrusianske kopi af Presleys hjem, der i øvrigt ligger lige ved siden af en McDonald's – der var ingen sure miner.

Godt fem kvarter inde i sættet tog Costello med egne ord en "Detour", hvilket også blev vist med et lysende skilt på scenen. Det bestod i al enkelhed i, at Costello nu satte sig ned, tog en ny akustisk guitar og fremførte en håndfuld sange, der om muligt var endnu mere inderlige end dem, vi hidtil havde hørt. Heriblandt jazzstandarden "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" tilegnet "My girl at home" (jazzsangerinden Diana Krall) og parrets to tvillingedrenge på syv år. Smukt.

Efter en håndfuld sange rejste Costello sig igen, slukkede "Detour"-skiltet, greb for første gang en elektrisk guitar – med loop-pedal – og gav et af sine mest kendte numre, den reggaepåvirkede "Watching the Detectives" fra 1977, inden han sluttede hovedsættet med et andet hit fra samme år, den smukke, vemodige ballade "Alison", hvor han som så mange andre gange denne aften pressede stemmen til det yderste i det høje register – uden at den knækkede over. Stærkt.

Der var nu gået halvanden time, og Costello havde allerede givet os god valuta for pengene, men han kom ind til, hvad der skulle vise sig at blive næsten en hel time med ekstranumre. Nu satte han sig for første gang ved keyboardet og gav endnu en smuk balladeklassiker, "Shipbuilding" skrevet i lyset af Falklandskrigen i 1982, hvor der pludselig kom gang i den engelske skibsproduktion, om end på et meget trist grundlag.

Den elektriske guitar kom frem igen i endnu et tidligt hit, "Oliver's Army", blev fulgt af en intens akustisk ("What's So Funny 'Boat) Peace, Love and Understanding"), og sådan fortsatte ekstranumrene med det ene højdepunkt efter det andet. Blandt andet den skønne, langsomme "When it Sings" med Costello tilbage bag klaveret – inden Costello efter næsten to en halv time sluttede af med jazzballaden "Jimmie Standing in the Rain" iblandet strofer af 30'er-depressionsklassikeren "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime", hvor Costello til sidst gik væk fra mikrofonen og sang ud i salen, der var fuldstændig stille – inden den brød løs i øredøvende klapsalver.

Costello viste dermed, at hvis man bare er en tilstrækkelig dygtig og alsidig sanger, guitarist og sangskriver, kan man sagtens underholde en sal i to en halv time uden andre virkemidler end stemme, guitar, klaver, lys og en håndfuld anekdoter. Jeg kunne godt have tænkt mig lidt flere klavernumre end bare to, gerne "God Give Me Strength" fra det meget vellykkede Burt Bacharach-samarbejde – men ellers var der intet at udsætte på aftenens bundsolide koncert, der viste, at Costello nok er fyldt 60, men ikke har grund til at være utilfreds, og det har hans publikum heller ikke. Sidste års vellykkede samarbejde med The Roots understregede også, at han ikke er færdig med at udfordre sig selv. Flere gange undervejs sagde han, at han gerne ville komme tilbage snart, for "jeg har alt for mange sange til i aften". Han skal være så hjertelig velkommen.


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Costello is 60 and has no reason to be dissatisfied, and his audience has not

Many legendary international music acts have visited the Randers venue through time: Willie Nelson, Grinderman with Nick Cave, Faces, Crosby & Nash, Joan Baez, Rufus Wainwright, Chuck Berry (though in his career absolute fall) and Tom Jones to name just few, and now the English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello.

Costello has from his debut in 1977 released all 23 albums under his own name - with or without backing group The Attractions and The Imposters - as well as a series of collaborative albums with artists as diverse as classical quartet The Brodsky Quartet, songwriter veteran Burt Bacharach, New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint, hip hop / soul group The Roots and many more. Costello is not the real holders, but throws himself unceremoniously over one genre after another - post-punk, pop, rock, jazz, classical, blues, soul. Often successfully. The man is in other words a large and versatile talent, and there an excellent songwriter.

Costello, who last month turned 60, is currently on a solo tour, and he had collected a sold-out Great Hall at work Saturday night. Implements were six guitars - four acoustic and two electric - as well as a keyboard, however, should first come into use by the encore. When Costello last visited Denmark, he had a band, a wheel of fortune and a dancer in a cage (!) On stage, but tonight was just scenography of an illuminated sign with the words "On air" as if we were engaged in a radio or television recording, or otherwise tasteful, subdued light.

Costello was as usual impeccably dressed in a dark suit, shirt, hat light and the characteristic edge glasses, and he laid out in the rocking corner with the energetic "45" with distortion and chopping chords on the acoustic guitar. It was Costello's vocals a little hard to understand, and the number was not the most auspicious start to the evening. Fortunately, it was as if a sun went from the cloud during subsequent, more subdued tracks, where his characteristic broad vibrato voice came much more into its own with the subtle acoustic guitar playing, where the chord and finger games imperceptibly fingers interlaced. The always well-written texts could now be clearly heard.

The energetic Costello appointed early in the set tonight's theme to be "love and deceit", that is, love and betrayal ("we have songs enough for three nights") and such was "Veronica", where Costello-vote came high up in the chorus in the song, which incidentally was written in collaboration with Paul McCartney.

An early highlight was the bluesy "Ascension Day" written in collaboration with New Orleans jazz / blues / soul-pianist Allen Toussaint after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 Another was "Harry Worth", according to Costello inspired by a couple that he had met by chance at their wedding - they were at the same hotel - and had seen several times in the following years before she "ran with my bass player." A sharp little song about love's ups and downs, so cynical that Costello can write them: "Five years had passed 'til I happened along / He said," Do you hear att noise? Well, att once was our song "/ I looked in her eyes and saw barely a kick / He laughed too loud simply he drank Until Dark".

The groovy "Come the Mean Times" from last year's prestigious collaboration with The Roots sparked the call-response song, which Costello almost snarled "Am I only talking to myself" out of the room and got the answer "no" many times over. It made the already good atmosphere to grow in intensity.

Costello took between numbers good time to tell anecdotes, for example, whether he had met and recorded with Johnny Cash, whom he had met through their mutual friend, the singer and songwriter Nick Lowe - who was once married to Cash's stepdaughter Carlene Carter. One day the doorbell rang, and outside stood a man in black and introduced himself as "Johnny Cash" - it must have been great. Then we got Cash's "Cry, Cry, Cry". Immediately before Costello song "Song With Rose", a song he had written with another Cash, Rosanne (daughter of Johnny and his first wife, Vivian) and showed his country inspiration - the man has a wide, but good taste. As Costello said, played Rosanne Cash also recently at the plant.

Another funny story came out that Costello had arrived at the hotel the day before the concert and the reception had asked what attractions (no pun intended) you could see in Randers, and got the answer: The rain forest or Graceland. And then it was all the latter, the "I hate monkeys", said the Costello, who took his stage name - his name is in fact Declan Patrick MacManus - as something of a provocation shortly before the king's death in 1977, although he was greeted with kindness when he arrived at the randrusianske copy of Presley's home, which incidentally is right next to a McDonald's - there were no hard feelings.

Well-quarter inside the kit took Costello in his own words the "Detour", which was also indicated by an illuminated sign on the stage. It consisted in simplicity that Costello now sat down, took a new acoustic guitar and argued a handful of songs that, if possible, was even more fervent than those we had previously heard. Among the jazz standard "Walkin 'My Baby Back Home" dedicated "My girl at home" (jazz singer Diana Krall) and their two twin boys of seven years. Beautifully.

After a handful of songs traveled Costello again, off "Detour" sign, grabbed for the first time an electric guitar - with loop pedal - and gave one of his best-known numbers, the reggae influenced "Watching the Detectives" in 1977, before he joined the headset with another hit from the same year, the beautiful, wistful ballad "Alison", where he, like so many other times this evening pushed his voice to the limit in the high register - without it broke. Strong.

Had passed a half hour, and Costello had already given us good value for money, but he came to what would prove to be almost a full hour of encores. Now he sat for the first time at the keyboard and gave another beautiful ballad classic "Shipbuilding" written in light of the Falklands War in 1982, when suddenly there was time in the English ship production, albeit at a very sad basis.

The electric guitar came up again in another early hit, "Oliver's Army", followed by an intense acoustic ("What's So Funny 'Boat) Peace, Love and Understanding"), and so it continued the encore with one highlight after another . Among other things, the beautiful, slow "When It Sings" with Costello back behind the piano - before Costello after nearly two and a half hour ended with jazz ballad "Jimmie Standing in the Rain" mixed stanzas of the 30s depression classic "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, "where Costello eventually walked away from the microphone and sang out in the hall, which was totally quiet - before broke into deafening applause.

Costello showed thereby that if you just have a sufficiently talented and versatile singer, guitarist and songwriter, one can easily entertain a room for two and a half hours with no instruments other than voice, guitar, piano, lights and a handful of anecdotes. I would have liked a little more piano numbers than just two, like "God Give Me Strength" from the highly successful Burt Bacharach collaboration - but otherwise there was nothing to put on tonight's rock-solid concert, which showed that Costello enough age of 60 but do not have reason to be dissatisfied, and has his audience does not. Last year's successful collaboration with The Roots also stressed that he is not ready to challenge themselves. Several times along the way, he said that he would like to come back soon, because "I have too many songs for tonight." He must be so warm welcome.