When you least expect it, fate stumbles in...

News.com.au: Noel Mengel: October 24th, 2012

IN 2012, major rock 'n' roll tours are big business with every element organised in fine detail. That's not just behind the scenes.

With some bands it also includes the set lists, which might only vary slightly as the tour makes it way around the globe. And Elvis Costello is having none of that.

Costello has been a frequent tourist of Australia since he first came here with Elvis Costello and the Attractions in 1978, but in January he brings his Spectacular Singing Songbook to Australia for theatre shows in Sydney and Melbourne.

This tour is with his later band the Imposters, featuring original Attractions Steve Nieve (keys) and Pete Thomas (drums) plus bass player Davey Faragher. There will also be Day on the Green winery shows, with the set list chosen in the more usual way by Costello and the band.

The Spinning Songbook concept features 40 selections of hits, rarities and surprises each night, with the band playing whatever song the wheel lands on.

"We were playing St Louis last summer and Eddie Vedder was playing down the road with his ukulele show. There was 20 minutes between the start times of our shows so we said, 'Come on and do one with us and have a bit of fun'.

"Eddie goes off to great cheers, spins the wheel and it lands on Pump It Up. Many people would imagine that would be the finale of our show, but we have to keep going for another two hours.

"Another night it might be the opposite; you might get Shipbuilding followed by I Want You."

Costello wants to make sure there is plenty of time to devote to parenting his five-year-old twin sons with his wife, Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall, who has just released a new album, Glad Rag Doll.

"I enjoy playing and that's enough of my time really," Costello says. "Like a lot of people, I have to think about division of my time: the part of your life you value that you don't want to miss, and how you make your livelihood.

"I have plenty of ideas and one of these days I might write some more songs. But there is no possible way in the current market place that I can make a living making records. I have so many songs, I don't actually need to write any more.

"Partly I'm kidding. I don't know what is coming, is the truth. I could tell you I will never write another thing and then I could arrive with all new songs in the set and three records coming out. When you least expect it, fate stumbles in, as Percy Sledge once sang."