Elvis Costello: Return of the King
April 5, 2012
As 1985 was ending, so were two of Elvis Costello's relationships: his first marriage, and his tenure with the Attractions, the backing band with which he'd become famous. The foul mood that enveloped him was made plain in the following year's Blood & Chocolate, a loud, ramshackle album that seemingly begged the mainstream to ignore it—which it did. Obliged to promote it with a tour, the crumbling band hit upon a contrarily lighthearted concept: a gigantic roulette wheel full of songs from Costello's sprawling catalogue of rock, country, Motown pastiche, and jazz, which audience members would come onstage to spin. Later described by the man himself as "a flip suggestion for solving the problem of deciding which songs to perform," the Spinning Songbook tour came to be remembered as one of the best of Costello's career. His life is very different nowadays—domestic bliss with Diana Krall in West Vancouver; the burnished aura that comes from being a respected veteran—but Costello isn't above revisiting a bright idea from a dark time. He revived the Spinning Songbook last year and has been taking it around the world. Now we get our chance to give it a whirl.