Elvis Costello has treated Liverpool to memorable gigs in many brilliant disguises, Getintothis’ Alan O’Hare casts the spotlight on the Bard of Birkenhead ahead of his upcoming solo set.
Talk about a restless heart.
When Elvis Costello takes that solitary walk onto the big stage of the Philharmonic Hall this June, it will be for a solo show in front of a packed house. The last time he trod the boards of the Phil, it was with The Imposters for the rock ‘n’ roll revue of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook in 2013.
Previously to that, in 2010, the Bard of Birkenhead had impressed on Hope Street with his Americana outfit, The Sugarcanes, and back in 2008 he rescued the bungling city council’s music programme for the Capital of Culture celebrations, with a sell-out spectacular backed by the RLPO.
Also in this last decade, Costello helped bring The Picket back to life with an intimate night on Jamaica Street – alongside New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint, for their The River In Reverse record – and he brought the spinning songbook show back for a rerun at the Liverpool Empire, just last year.
This time, he’s going it alone. “No songs of mine, that I can think of, ever began as full-band performances,” he’s said recently. “I could sit down and play you 99% of the songs I’ve written and just play them to you – you won’t see something like this any day of the week. I have a lot of songs, I try to make the best of them and I try to find the story in one song to lead me to the next one.”
It promises to be some gig. Costello is the consummate songwriter – perhaps only Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan can count as many musicians as fans, as Elvis does – and his agitated spirit has never allowed his art to settle into one home.
His last record, 2013’s Wise Up Ghost, was a collaboration with hip hop’s greatest band, The Roots, and received some of the best reviews of his career, while more recently he teamed back up with legendary American producer T Bone Burnett (they toured as The Coward Brothers, back in the late 1980s) to create an album of music to accompany long-lost Dylan lyrics (The New Basement Tapes’ Lost On The River).
In short, Costello arrived at the top table many moons ago and the feast of tunes he’s offering up already on this Detour solo run, back him up with all the ammunition he needs. That aim is still true.
Don’t miss this one.
Elvis Costello plays Philharmonic Hall on June 15 2015.