from the Vancouver Sun:
http://www.canada.com/vancouver/vancouv ... 61991AF0D1
Love match media blitz takes Elvis by surprise
... but Diana Krall's beau says he isn't fazed by all the attention
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
For the first time in 25 years, Elvis Costello is playing Calgary,
and he has a sneaking suspicion that jazz artist and fiancee Diana
Krall might have something to do with it.
Since the announcement of their engagement, 47-year-old Costello
says he has been getting more bookings in Canada. He says this
while laughing, because so far the fuss surrounding their surprising
relationship hasn't fazed him.
"I was a little bit startled about the amount of coverage we are
getting, particularly in the Canadian papers you know," he said,
in an interview from Las Vegas. "When I arrived in Toronto, there
was a picture of us that was bigger than a story about the war --
that was a bit shocking. That takes you back a little bit. And you
know, there seemed to be a couple of weeks when they were making up
reasons to drop our name into things. I do know there is bound to
be curiosity, but it's been pretty good natured, I have to say.
Nobody's trying to say anything mean.
"There's nothing scandalous. I think people know that we are both
pretty dedicated to the music that we perform," he says, a reference
to their obvious status as a power duo in the world of serious music.
The relationship he describes as "a great thing," although he's not
revealing the date of their wedding. And their collaboration doesn't
yet extend to the musical variety, although Costello won't totally
discount the idea.
"Maybe we will in the future, but you don't want to do everything
together. You want to keep it special, you know. Just because we're
together doesn't mean we have to be the next Steve and Eydie," he
says, laughing. "Or the next Lucy and Desi."
Costello and Nanaimo-native Krall form an illustrious musical union,
what with Krall's success as a contemporary jazz artist who has made
the difficult crossover to the mainstream. And Costello, the son of
a jazz bandleader born in Liverpool, is widely considered one of the
best songwriters of his generation.
Costello already had strong ties to Vancouver, with family members
in the Lower Mainland, including his "Auntie Mary," and an extended
family of cousins here.
And judging from his minimalist show at the Orpheum Monday night,
Costello has a penchant for Canadiana in ways that don't involve his
fiancee. As one of four encores, he dedicated a song to the area
north of the border with such gratitude, it made you wonder if he'd
named his new album, North, in honour of Krall's homeland.
The Orpheum show was one of four that switched format on a tour that
otherwise includes Costello's backing band, the Imposters. With
long-time pianist Steve Nieve at the grand piano and on the melodica,
Costello used only guitar, microphone, and the heritage room's famous
acoustics to hold us spellbound, with slight re-workings of old songs
and extended notes that would fade as he stepped away from the
While Nieve worked out dramatic flourishes and subtle underpinnings at
the piano, Costello focused our attention on the emotional depth of
his songwriting. He'd often stand at the edge of the stage,
particularly on the new songs, and sing unamplified, keeping time with
"I like as much as possible to use little amplification, and sing as
much using the hall as possible, because that way there is nothing
between you and the audience, which is the most direct you can get,"
he explained in our interview.
As is increasingly the fashion these days, the always outspoken
Costello peppered his two-and-a-half hour show with lots of anti-U.S.
comments, such as jabs at President George Bush and corporate America.
Following an unamplified version of a song, he received the loud
applause with, "Thank you. That was the anti-Clear Channel portion of
It's heartening to see that Costello hasn't lost the irreverence that
caused him to once change his name from Declan (McManus) to Elvis, as
a direct challenge to the music industry. But these days, he no longer
has to fight to be heard. He is one of the few artists who can make
records of his choosing, without radio play or chart-topping sales. The
record labels call him a credibility act.
"I know I do pretty well with songwriting," he said. "I know that's the
trick skill I have. I can't juggle. I can't ride a bicycle. I can't
touch-type. But I can write songs. I started early and I've been doing
it a long time. I started writing songs when I was 13, and as soon as I
learned to play guitar, I wanted to write my own songs. From 17 or 18 I
knew I wanted to get them out there. I didn't have any ambitions about
"When you see these programs on TV about being famous, you really
that their aspiration is to be famous, not to be good at music or learn
to write songs. They want to be famous ahead of all those things.
why it is so difficult to hear music of consequence there."
Costello's songwriting repertoire is huge, which means he has the
of changing the setlist on any given night. Monday night, Costello
old standards from his prolific songbook, including Accidents Will
Man Out of Time, Brilliant Mistake, Almost Blue, Watching the
Alison, Everyday I Write the Book, What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love
Understanding, newer songs, such as All This Useless Beauty, 45, and
Burt Bacharach collaboration, I Still Have That Other Girl. It was all
part of a wise master plan to blend the familiar with the spanking new.
And his effort was received with repeated standing ovations. It seems
almost impossible for Costello to deliver a performance that is
less than brilliant.
The charismatic voice is strong, stronger than the voice that emerged
1977 with his break-out album My Aim Is True. Costello believes his
is stronger, too, which could explain why he so enjoys rooms designed
"I have sung with other people, I sang with a string quartet, all of
things help you develop your voice," he explained earlier. "And that's
coming to the service of the new songs that I write."
And as he promised in our interview, he gave the Vancouver audience the
world premier of several of those new songs off his album North, to be
released in September. He might have given us the entire album, as he'd
previously considered, but a heckler in the balcony blew a hole in the
delicate fabric of the mood by blurting out, "We're falling asleep up
Costello seemed thrown by the outburst, and responded, "Bob Dylan once
booed for turning electric. It's the first time I've ever been booed
playing music," to much applause.
It was a shame, because Costello had already been concerned about
reaction to this premiering of the new material.
"If we get taken in the mood, and people respond to them, maybe we will
perform all the new songs," he said. "But they are very new to us. We
actually had much experience in performing them in front of people. We
performed them in the studio. So it's hard to say. You have to think
how long you can sustain people's interest."
It took several songs to pick up the dynamic that was in the process of
established, but by the time he was into the encores, he'd returned to
gleeful, slightly silly mood that he'd been in during our interview.
The sampling of new material, written at the piano, indicated short,
songs with lots of spaces for dramatic instrument solos. A particular
was a song called Still, one of several eloquent love songs that
Costello's painstaking attention to lyrics.
"They are very intimate," says Costello. "And a lot of them are the
tender songs I have ever written."
Clearly, he has met his northern Muse.