In 2015, celebrated singer-songwriter Elvis Costello was given the honor of "The most prodigious writer of fine songs in British history" from UK newspaper The Independent. High praise to be sure, but his record speaks for itself. His solo tour from that year, appropriately titled "Detour," featured Costello on guitar and piano, often telling the stories behind the songs, not unlike on Storytellers. The combination worked, making for an evening of great music and conversation. A show was filmed at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and makes up the excellent new Blu-ray Detour: Live At Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
Costello does his best Pete Townshend, power strumming his acoustic guitar and giving a passionate vocal on set opener "Red Shoes." The stage features a giant vintage TV, which includes images and words throughout the show to accompany the songs. The solo acoustic format works well on a haunting "Watch Your Step." Costello uses space well here and throughout the show, letting his voice drive the song.
A spirited "Accidents Will Happen" follows, with a call and response from the audience at the end. Costello tells a humorous story about writing the song in a taxi while en route to Mexico. Costello's stories are quite often as entertaining as the songs themselves, though he is careful not to get too longwinded. He switches to electric guitar for "Church Underground," a track about a person looking for fame only to find infamy. The song is finger picked and makes excellent use of its ringing chords. "When I Was Cruel No. 2" takes on a solo bluesy feel here while Costello's guitar on "Watching The Detectives" is drenched in reverb and delay. This trick allows him to play lead over his own rhythm parts, making for a dramatic effect.
Rebecca and Megan Lovell from Larkin Poe join Costello for a number of songs on guitar, mandolin and vocals, including "Pads, Paws and Claws." Megan Lovell adds some killer slide guitar to this number, giving it a heavy blues feel. Costello performs inside the TV for a heartfelt "Allison," looking like he was straight out of a vintage television appearance.
The Lovells join Costello for the spirited set closer "Peace Love and Understanding." The trio is clearly having fun onstage and gets a good laugh as Costello breaks a string mid song. The performance ends the show on an upbeat note.
The video is filmed in 1080i High Definition Widescreen 16x9 (1.78:1) and looks great. The show is very well filmed and thankfully doesn't feature the rapid-fire editing that so many modern concert videos have. Audio options include LPCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio. A number of live performances, with and without Larkin Poe, are included as bonus tracks.
For a gifted songwriter such as Costello, the solo format works well, allowing the words and vocals to shine throughout. Detour showcases an artist who has lost nothing to the passage of time and the guest appearances from Larkin Poe enhance the performances. Well worth a look.