Elvis Costello Aims High and hits the mark with the “Revolver Tour”

Elvis Costello, on the European Walk of Fame

Image via Wikipedia

Though he “borrowed” the name Elvis for his stage-name when he signed up for the independent label Stiff Records, marrying it with his Mother’s maiden name Costello; there re no spangled jumpsuits, female hysteria, glittering over the top stage sets, and overt sexual swaggering for this Elvis – rather a subtle epitome of style and grounded worldliness and a grittiness, charisma and professionalism that comes from putting it out here since the early 70’s. Wearing the hallmark skinny jeans; skinny blazer lapels, and skinny tie topped off with the ubiquitous pork pie hat and over-sized black framed spectacles, he is way above cool.
This was an almost 3 hour romp through his 40 yr musical career; an interactive house party of a gig where the stage was set up with the “secrets of the spectacular spinning songbook” – lit up like a circus ride – a “hostage to fortune” go-go dancing cage complete with long limbed sequinned “Tressy doll (she was the one with dark hair that “grew”), and a REQUEST panel which he got one of the many visitors up to the stage to light up toward the last 30 minutes of the show.
This is as close as you get to having Costello in your actual living room as the show was run almost completely by the audience. A blonde harlequinned- trousered nimble (bare-foot I think) hostess, dipped in and out of the audience to pick “volunteers”. They were then invited to spin the wheel; after the pointer stopped at one of the myriad song titles, each had a wee up- close and personal moment with Elvis before being ushered to a stool and encouraged to have a turn in the go-go dancing cage for the duration of the number they’d “chosen” – even one of the men got in and had a go – Priceless!!!!
In between the dancing round the handbags girlies that graced the stage, Elvis put in a few of his own song choices, punctuated as always with his dry british wit. And so the show continued along the lines described above. One of the more amusing aspects of this format was that when the wheel hit the word “Girl” as a song title then the band had to play every song with the world” Girl” in the title – I lost track of how many that was.
By way of background – a very little scene setting – you can read more on the many Bios that grace the internet – I saw him with the Attractions twice in the leat seventies/early eighties earning his musical chops as many bands did ( no YouTube five-minute wonders in those days) touting his musical wares around small town/city UK. By the way did you know (this is for the Brits amongst us) that Elvis then…Declan Patrick MacManus did the backing vocals for his Dad who sang (and wrote the music and lyrics) for the “R Whites” lemonade advert – “I’m a secret lemonade drinker”. He also worked as a data entry clerk for Elizabeth Arden and he referenced that during the show saying he had a job where he got free lipstick and still couldn’t get a girlfriend. He also worked for the Midland Bank (now HSBC) computer centre in Bootle Merseyside (that’s a blast from the past as I visited that very place during a training stint with HSBC back in the day).
Married three times, the first time to Mary Burgoyne in 1974, with whom he had a son – now in his twenties. Then to Cait O’Riordan , the former bassist for the Irish group “The Pogues and finally and still to jazz musician Diana Krall. They have twin sons.
Elvis increased his N. American profile enormously (as if it wasn’t high enough already) when he hosted for the Sundance Channel series entitled Spectacle where he both talks (rather than interviews) and performs with stars in various fields.
So back to the gig, I am still in mourning today for the loss of my all-time favourite Elvis Costello hit from last night’s set list – Oliver’s Armies (1979 – Armed Forces album) so I thought I’d amuse myself taking myself back to a joke made by “BBC Radio 1″ breakfast” radio host Noel Edmunds
Q. “Where are Oliver’s Armies”?
A. Up his sleevies
– Funny joke at the time but rather overshadowed the serious meaning and intent behind the lyrics referencing the Belfast situation of the late 70’s where young boys were wondering around the city in battle dress and toting automatic weapons . It also contained wider allusions to other trouble spots around the world at this time (S. Africa and Palestine and a reference to Checkpoint Charlie the crossing through the Berlin Wall during the “cold war). t has been suggested that the title refers to Oliver Cromwell upon whose “New Model Army”, our current British Army was born. The reference to “Murder Mile” a part of North Belfast where Catholics, or those suspected of being so, were taken off the street and tortured to death by Loyalists is particularly sobering. Not so much a song but a newsflash archive; a current affairs snapshot of the times.
Back to the gig again…… It ended after 2 encores one of which lasted 30 minutes with the stage looking like a dance party your Mother might have allowed you to have when you were 16 – crowded with individuals who encouraged by “harlequin pants” and Costello led audience participation in various prior chorus’ ,had run up on stage to dance awkwardly and self-consciously on stage. Think this got a little out of hand (much like the party in your Mum;s house might have) as there were so many on stage in the end – almost obliterating the audience view of ELvis – that security ever so nicely invited the dancers to leave the stage during the following number.
Some resource websites if you want to read more
http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/Main_Page – loads of updated infor on this wikki
http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/Concert_Schedule – 2011 Tour dates here

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