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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, September 10, 2002
    Still raw after 25 years
     
    Monday, late: Eastwards today, to the grey plain of Lancashire, to an old cotton town called 'man-chester', a place with no discernable centre, no focus. Having one football team managed by a national failure and the other captained by a national disgrace, the denizens of this dripping-wet place need solace. Who better to offer it than Elvis Costello, who drew me there to meet up with Paul from Leeds and Adrian from Crumpsall.

    Last seen in July in a big marquee on Liverpool's waterfront, Elvis's return to his heartland was as good as anticipated. No need to write an elongated review here as professional music writers are raving about him elsewhere. At this late hour, just the need to acknowledge thankfully the width of his repertoire, his emptional range and his stage prescence. These things were perhaps epitomised in his choosing to close the show (at the end of his fourth encore) with the new-wave celebration 'Pump it Up' followed by the murderously slow 'I Want You', a gem of ice-steel jealousy. The contrast between these songs could not be greater, but Elvis made them work brilliantly together.

    I owe most thanks to Elvis for being one of those artists who has not mellowed with age. Whilst with age I have learned emotional evasion and cultivated spiritual numbness, Costello has kept his edge, kept his emotional integrity, allowed his rage to wash through into the scores of songs which still engage the rawness after 25 years.