Something happens to edgy young punks and serious rock songwriters, late in life. They discover fun. Until recently, Elvis Costello had a reputation for being a deadly earnest musician who didn't engage with his public, too often. However, his following also have a reputation of being the same back sometimes, prompting a reaction from Costello some years back about having had enough of playing in England. Thankfully, he's changed his mind.
Declan MacManus began his musical career as a spearhead of the '70s British New-Wave scene, releasing his first single in 1977. "Less Than Zero" was one of Stiff Records' first releases and formed a benchmark for future Costello releases, including four classic albums ("My Aim is True", "This Year's Model", "Armed Forces" and "Get Happy") and a continuous stream of hit singles, the pick of which are "Oliver's Army", "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" and "Watching the Detectives".
His approach to later recordings has covered soul, country, folk and classical influences, yet remained unique, due mainly to Costello's emotional vocal and lyrical bent. He is one of the few artists who can transform a song like the perky "Accidents Will Happen", into an engaging soap-opera worth listening to. His last album, "National Ransom", featured Vince Gill, Marc Ribot and T-Bone Burnett - a smorgasbord of American roots, right there.
So what's with the 'fun' remark earlier? Elvis recently appeared on Sesame Street singing a new version of "Red Shoes", retitled as "Monster Went and Ate My Red 2". Elmo Costello, anyone? We like. And the fun doesn't stop there because Costello is bringing his 'spinning wheel' idea out of retirement for his next tour!
May 2012 heralds the start of the "Revolver" tour, which will involve the man and his band, The Imposters blasting out some classics, before handing over the responsibility of picking the set-list to the audience. A vaudevillian spinning wheel, recreated from original blueprints used to create a similar device for his mid-'80s shows, will contain dozens of song-titles, so all bases should be covered.
The tour will begin in Dublin on 9th May, followed by various towns and cities such as Glasgow, Manchester, Brighton, London's Royal Albert Hall and more before winding up in Basingstoke on the 27th. Tickets go on sale from Friday at 9am, priced at £30. Roll up, roll up - all the fun of the fair!