Elvis Costello was long on my list of artists to see live, and for some reason I had never gotten the chance. But now here it was, the night I would finally get to see this inspiration live on stage. Our tickets were already pretty sweet, balcony second row from the front at the London Palladium – can’t complain. But then my friend’s buddy had two spares in the stalls – also second row. Which, in a nutshell, meant we were 10 feet away from the man himself. Legendary.
Elvis’ 2016 Detour stopped over in London for several shows of which we attended the last evening. But first let’s take a minute to talk about the support – Larkin Poe. I haven’t seen a support band this stunning (musically as well as physically) in a while. Larkin Poe are Rebecca and Megan Lovell, and they’re a American roots rock band from Atlanta, GA. The sisters bring a blend of rock and bluesgrass together in a way that would put any established country rocker to shame. They are no doubt more than worthy of supporting a musical legend like Elvis Costello. And you can tell he thinks just as highly of the band as he asks them on stage several times throughout the night. This goes to show that sometimes a band is just a support band to the headliner – but sometimes the headliner believes in the musical talent of the bands they present their audiences with.
Fast forward to Elvis Costello on stage. The setting is a massive TV screen playing a slide show of old pictures from Costello’s childhood as he sits and tells us stories about his songs and his life. It has the feel of sitting down with your grandpa and his guitar while he tells you about his life on the road. Only that this grandpa has roughly 2,500 grandchildren in the room. We are by far the youngest in the audience – which is surprising. Does my generation not appreciate the legendary singers anymore just because they’re not in the media? Have we become so hipster that liking a band your dad likes is uncool? It’s a shame, really. Because those of my generation that are missing tonight’s gig are missing out on the show of a lifetime.
Costello’s accent is a mix of British, American and Italian American – it’s incredibly capturing and makes his story-telling all the more better. The set list was filled with songs usually performed by Elvis Costello & The Attractions and covers of Net King Cole’s Walkin’ My Baby Back Home, Charles Aznavour’s She (which was by far my favorite of the night, hauntingly beautiful) and The New Basement Tapes’ Down On The Bottom, For the encore we were treated to covers of Cliff Edwards’ Side By Side and George Jones’ Good Year For The Roses, alongside Larkin Poe joining the stage one more time for a jam session with Mr Costello.
30 songs in one evening – that’s almost Springsteen standards and makes spending money on shows so worth every penny. To see a legend take the stage and capture the audience for the whole evening, while seated, is an achievement in itself, but unsurprisingly not a hard one for Elvis Costello.