Friday, 06 August 2021

Rock and roll Elvis woos and wows festival crowd

HE’S master of many musical genres, but Elvis Costello can put on a blazing, crowd-pleasing

HE’S master of many musical genres, but Elvis Costello can put on a blazing, crowd-pleasing rock and roll show.

The Costello back catalogue shows he’s no stranger to politics — and in a time of post-referendum political upset we may have expected Elvis to have come out in crusading mood. But he was at the festival to party.

“You’re a mighty fine bunch of good-looking people,” he told Henley, and he wasn’t wrong.

Taking to the stage with the Imposters, he got the snappily dressed crowds bouncing to Pump It Up, looking more energetic and youthful than his 61 years. With his band — including keyboard genius Steve Nieve looking like a Clockwork Orange droog and acting like the “mad professor” — they churned out hit after hit: Radio Radio, High Fidelity, and Watching the Detectives were just for starters.

Security staff had their work cut out in keeping festivalgoers seated and eventually gave in to the crowd’s irresistible urge to dance. From faithfully delivered classics to the romantic section: the swoonsome Everyday I Write the Book and Alison, where he wandered into the crowd, whipped up a frenzy and serenaded us with a snippet of Smokey Robinson’s Tears of a Clown for extra heart-melting effect. And of course She had the couples smooching.

He also belted out songs that were less well known to casual fans but just as perfectly crafted: Wild Honey, The Other Side of Summer, Moods for Moderns and the waltzy Sunday’s Best. Elvis had everybody swaying. Even the hip hop track he recorded with The Roots got a dirty rock makeover, and along with the Bob Dylan track Lost on the River and the scuzzy guitar solo from Elvis on Bedlam, the hardcore fans were happy with such treasures.

As for the encore, a thunderous crowd stamping for more got a tender Shipbuilding, a rousing Oliver’s Army and an upbeat take on the Nick Lowe-penned (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.

The living legend left the talking to the songs and came to have a ball. Henley was only to happy to bend to his will.

Review: Helen Reynolds

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