Saturday, 12 July 2014

Live in 2014: Elvis Costello at The Brangwyn Hall, Swansea - Friday July 11th 2014

"Fuck The Electricity"
Not my current leaning in musical output these days but a direct quote from Mr Elvis Costello as he brought his solo show to Swansea with his first appearance in the city for 34 years.

It's Elvis Solo tonight - with a choice of 7 guitars and an electric piano onstage, Elvis takes us on a tour of his greatest hits and some album gems too. He opened with Jack Of All Parades from the King Of America album.

Next up was Green Shirt from the Armed Forces album.

The musical Gods were not kind to Elvis tonight - throughout the night they had issues with the sound every time Elvis picked up anything electric. This ruled out several of the gorgeous guitars that Elvis had brought onto the stage. It was a shame but I actually enjoyed the stripped back acoustic performances of the songs.

The venue was holding almost 900 tonight and Elvis made it feel like a much more intimate gig by playing the majority of the show acoustically. Several times you could have heard a pin drop as he worked his way through his set.

Following a great version of Accidents Will Happen & Poison Moon, Elvis went on to talk about his previous visit to the city - 34 years ago at the long gone Top Rank. He stated that tonight's venue was much more salubrious. Too right it is.
He was in fine voice tonight and the more acoustic setting gave the songs a chance to breathe and to highlight the superb lyrics to the vast majority of his songs.

Elvis then played Girls' Talk, which was a big hit for Welsh rocker Dave Edmunds but written by Elvis.

His country ballad Good Year For The Roses followed to great applause.

New Amsterdam morphed into The Beatles' You've Got To Hide Your Love Away which was just sublime & brought one of the biggest cheers of the evening. It is almost 29 years to the day that Elvis performed All You Need Is Love at Live Aid - that would have been a nice touch.

He finished this part of the show with an excellent version of Everyday I Write The Book, which he jokingly revealed was written in 10 minutes and he couldn't stand the song.

Elvis then took to his seat for several songs including Walking my Baby Back Home, You Took Advantage Of Me, Ghost Train and his version of the song from the movie Notting Hill, the magnificent She.

Following the rather excellent seated section, Elvis then risked the electric semi acoustic to put in what I must say was a rather riveting performance of Watching The Detectives, using a guitar loop to create some terrific sounds.

and next followed my all time favouite Elvis song, Alison.

After a tiny break where some people thought there was an interval, Elvis rushed back to the stage to sit at the electric piano and give a sensational performance of his Falklands War observation, Shipbuilding.

It was time to risk the electric again as Elvis launched into Oliver's Army and Last Year Of My Youth.

Then came the 'Fuck The Electricity' which almost brought the house down as Elvis returned to his acoustic to give us superb versions of Jimmie Standing In The Rain, The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes and Wave A White Flag.

Asking for requests, Elvis responded with Blue Chair.

Before finishing the show with (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding.

So, despite some electrical gremlins which obviously affected the way Elvis Costello would want to produce his show, it was a triumphant return to Swansea after 34 years. 

Many thanks to the people of New York who managed to capture the video that I've used to try and convey the atmosphere and performance of the Swansea show. 

Photos are my own from the Swansea show.

Twitter - @ElvisCostello

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