Live at Vicar St

Irish Independent: 03.07.10 This organic, often languid, sound works well with expressive vocals of the Liverpool-raised singer of Irish stock. Glorious As expected, there's a strong emphasis on the newer material; although, in truth, the low-tempo pace soon tries the patience. Luckily, a stunning as-yet-unreleased song, 'Condemned Man', comes along to pin restless punters to their seats and it's followed by one of the new album's best songs, 'Complicated Shadows', which features some glorious virtuoso slide guitar from Jerry Douglas. Costello is an engaging raconteur and his showman qualities are revealed on several occasions, not least when he dusts down some old favourites. 'New Amsterdam' sounds especially fine, not least when its coda fades into a lovely version of The Beatles' 'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away', while a faithful rendition of 'Alison' offers a reminder of what a great songwriter the young Elvis Costello was. The highlight of the night is the sombre 'Shipbuilding'. One of the greatest -- and most subtle -- protest songs ever written, its message about the futility of war is as relevant for those caught up in today's conflicts as it was when released during the height of the Falklands debacle. That it sits somewhat uneasily between jaunty Americana only serves to accentuate its impact.