"Some curious and bizarre comparisons made during the Revolver Tour"
"He could hardly fail. Elvis Costello, arguably Britain’s finest singer/songwriter since Lennon and McCartney (and don’t overlook the importance of those words ‘finest singer’), performing at Britain’s most acoustically splendid concert hall, and with hundreds of quality songs at his disposal from his 35-year recording career."
The show’s now renowned format gave him the chance to reveal more of his personality than a traditional concert would – prowling the stage like the Child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang looking for his next contestant and joking with those invited to spin the wheel.
"Looking and sounding like Eric Morecambe’s impish rock-star nephew, Elvis Costello revealed his hitherto untapped talents as a music-hall comedian at the first British date of his Revolver tour."
But the final hour was pure joy, from the Cole Porter-style ditties of the singer’s most recent album, National Ransom, to the thunderous closing stampede of Costello classics, including Oliver’s Army and Pump it Up.
Prior to all this he struts round the stage with a cane and trademark hat as some kind of hybrid of the Joker and the Riddler.
The smoky jazz lounge rendition of I'll take Care Of You was particularly impressive, with Costello channelling the sultry ways of Rihanna.
"It was as much a pleasure to see him channel his inner Tommy Cooper and Woody Allen as it was to realise that, in the middle of all the gaiety and wisecracks, he’s still got the nerve and steely self-possession to conclude a lengthy show (it lasted for almost three hours, no intermission) with a guitar-shredding version of I Want You"
During the gig's three relentless hours, with an indefatigability and spontaneity reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen shows of yore, Costello played 35, 40, maybe 50 songs.
The giant wheel, a recreation from the plans of the original 1986 wheel, since donated to the Hartlepool Museum of Showbusiness Machinery according to Costello’s website, insures a unique show every night. Later spins by others garnered playing of “Peace, Love, and Understanding” and “The Joker.” Eat your heart out Pat Sajak.
There he stood, in buttoned suit, clunky specs, porkpie hat, still able to hold a tune like a young scruff mouthing off to the cops
Last night at Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre the game show was the Spectacular Spinning Songbook; a twenty-foot wheel, possibly reclaimed from The Price Is Right, bearing the names of songs from Costello back catalogue
"Costello seemed to be having a lot of fun, singing with a lot of conviction and proving to be quite the six-string samurai!"
Moving the show along, a couple is brought to the stage as the next contestants to the giant spinning wheel. Costello took the role of Chuck Woolery making a “Love Connection” joking with the two, “you might get lucky! The wheel has the power of love for couples” describing that a young man in Boston proposed to his girl on the spot
Like a four-headed, one-man rat pack, Costello and the Imposters burned through hits, covers and back pages like time was irrelevant.
Costello oversaw the proceedings with a particularly impish glee and with a slight Groucho Marx lean to his gate while expounding: "Round and round she goes. Where she stops, nobody knows."
Next, the wheel landed on "Time," an umbrella topic that included songs with "Time" in the title. He performed a heartfelt take of Get Happy's "Clowntime is Over," a raucous "Strict Time" and then "Man Out of Time," which built like a Springsteen epic.
Costello set his guitar down, stepped offstage and wandered the crowd, at one point dropping nearly to his knees like James Brown.
He then performed a rousing "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea" and then "I Want You," a thudding blues jam that had him stabbing his guitar Neil Young-style, his vocals drenched in effects, bouncing from speaker to speaker.
With his trio of Imposters, Costello managed to cram nearly two dozen favorites (an ageless “Alison’’; the dub reggae-tinged “Watching the Detectives’’; the blunted boil of “Pump It Up’’) into a free-wheeling, two hour-plus set spiked with Barnum & Bailey-style banter.