IN A SPIN WITH ELVIS
Get set for a gig with a difference. Elvis Costello tells Andy Welch why he will be letting lady luck pick the setlist when he stops off in the county this week.
Elvis Costello is doing one of his favourite things – relaxing in New York. The city has been a sort of home to the 58-year-old for the past nine years. “The vibe is very mellow,” explains Elvis who stays in the city when he’s working. The rest of his time is spent at home in Vancouver with his singer wife, Diana Krall, and their twin sons Henry and Frank. It’s a busy time for Elvis, who’s currently writing and recording songs for a new album to be released before the end of the year, while once again working with Burt Bacharach on a stage adaptation of Painted From Memory, their 1998 album. He hopes it will develop over the 12 months and end up on stage in “the next few years”. “We’re writing new songs, so it would be nice to write songs for that. I’m also working on a book of my own,” says Elvis. “It’s not fiction but it’s not non-fiction either. I’m not writing an autobiography. Everyone knows that story, everyone’s an expert, so I can only tell people what they don’t know.” Much more imminently, he and his band The Imposters – essentially the backing band of his 1980s heyday, The Attractions, with one or two different members – are bringing the Spectacular Spinning Songbook tour to the UK once again. They did the same last year, and the reception the shows received surprised everyone – most of all Elvis himself – so they’re back for a bigger trip lasting all of June and into July. “We thought we’d just be able to go to the places we missed last spring,” says Elvis. “The shows were brilliant last time, the atmosphere at each really special, so we can’t wait to do it again.” There is a special feature to the Spinning Songbook gigs – a giant wheel loaded with the names of 50 of Costello’s songs. A member of the audience is invited to spin the wheel, and the band play whichever song it lands on. There are showgirls on stage, and the lucky audience member can either stay up there in
Elvis Costello and the imposters will be at Canterbury’s marlowe theatre at 7.30pm on sunday, June 23. tickets cost from £49.50. Call 01227 787787.
a cage to dance alongside the band – many do – or sit in a more relaxed area at the back and drink cocktails. It has more in common with old-fashioned vaudeville than a standard rock ‘n’ roll concert, while the wheel serves up interesting combinations of songs, eschewing the pacing of a planned set list. “We have to be well-rehearsed, we have to have 50 songs in the pocket to even play the game,” says Elvis. “We’ve delved into the back catalogue a bit so I think we have about 150 we can choose from. “The wheel’s fair, too, until we lean on it a bit when someone tells us it’s their wedding anniversary or something. Some songs have come up twice or three times in a night.” Naturally, there are gasps when the wheel approaches any of Elvis’s biggest hits. Often what would normally be a finale song or form part of an encore will be chosen right at the top of a show. “The wheel has made us play the older songs better, and we never know what to expect,” says Elvis. “You have to drop into the darkest, most emotional songs without any preparation, and one of your favourites might not get chosen for five shows.”