by Dylan Graham
This year’s Festival of Voice welcomed numerous wonderful artists from a wide range of countries, genres and backgrounds. However, all good things must come to an end, and this year’s festivities closed with a mammoth set from the British legend that is Elvis Costello. Costello, along with his band The Imposters, were the only act of the evening. Their performance lasted over two hours, yet there was no shortage of material. With thirty studio albums under his belt, Costello effortlessly entertained the crowd all evening, performing old songs and new from his thirty-year long career.
Elvis Costello and The Imposters managed to make a two-hour set fly by, keeping the crowd engaged throughout with numerous big hits from his extensive career. Songs such as ‘(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea’ and ‘Pump It Up’ received a roaring reception from the audience. As the main set came to a close, the crowd were left cheering for an awkwardly long time for Costello to return for more, and they weren’t left disappointed. The encore lasted for over forty-five minutes and mainly featured more stripped back, reworked versions of his much-loved songs. ‘Alison’ was the first to be performed, with Costello armed only with his guitar and vocal support from his two amazing backing-vocalists. The encore continued with many more reworked songs, including his famous cover of the Charles Aznavour song ‘She’, before the full band returned once again for an uplifting finale of some more upbeat songs, ending with an extended version of his 1986 single ‘I Want You’.
Whilst Costello’s vocals have never been renowned to be the most pristine in pop music, his voice is certainly iconic, and I was pleasantly surprised by his ability to sustain notes for such a length of time without a hitch. It seems that decades of performing has only enhanced his vocal ability rather than being a hindrance. That being said, there were moments where Costello struggled to sing in tune with his band, most notably in some of his quieter, stripped back moments of the encore. It seemed as if Costello’s voice started to fatigue at this point of the set, however, this is forgivable given his age and the fact that he’d been performing for nearly two hours.
Whilst not the stars of the show, The Imposters gave a tight performance for the duration of the set. Steve Nieve was charismatic on the keys, and I often found my attention being drawn from Costello to Nieve’s passionate performance. The drums and bass, played by Pete Thomas and Bruce Thomas respectively were fine if a little lifeless. However, the two backing vocalists gave a powerful performance, successfully complimenting Costello throughout the show.
Elvis Costello and The Imposters ended this year’s Festival of Voice in style, leaving the audience with an appetite for more. Although his set was already long, Costello certainly had enough material to play for even longer, and it seems that the crowd would have happily let him play late into the night should it have been possible.