Review: Elvis Costello & The Imposters at The Mayflower, Southampton


Elvis Costello & The Imposters' performance graced The Mayflower with their incredible energy and unmatched sound.

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Music legend Elvis Costello visited Southampton’s The Mayflower at the end of last week, and it was really something memorable.

Having never attended a gig at The Mayflower before, with my usual venue being The Joiners, this was quite an upgrade. Walking into the grand vastness, I already knew the night would be good. Having caught the end of support act Ian Prowse, it became instantly clear to me how incredible the sound quality was, and the experience of hearing live music in such a grand environment felt special.

As our night with Costello began, he entered the stage sporting a snazzy, sparkly black blazer, and his entrance was very warmly-received by the audience. Despite the entire venue being seated, it was clear many were desperate to jump up and move, as his entrance was greeted by loud applause and a standing ovation. When just an entrance receives such a warm response, you know you’re in for a good night.

Costello, accompanied by his band ‘The Imposters’, opened the show with ‘Strict Time’, from 1981 album Trust. This was, much like his entrance to the stage, incredibly well received by the audience and had many heads immediately bobbing. It was in this first song that I realised how great their light-show was. Using just three, square screens behind the band, the song’s original music video was played. This was simple but extremely effective – I’m sure it allowed for some reminiscence from some of the audience members, and for someone like me who has not seen these videos, it made the performance even more enticing.

Second performance of the night was ‘Clubland’, which really drew my attention to pianist, Steve Nieve. The piano in this song was, for lack of a better word, incredibly groovy. Costello’s vocals were entirely unmatched in this performance. There seemed no moment where he lacked energy, and he did a fantastic job at rallying up the audience, especially considering the grand environment and seated nature of the event. It was also incredible to witness him reach notes I could not even fathom – his voice is simply flawless for both the low and high notes.

It was difficult to pick an audience favourite for this show, which I assume is because of Costello’s legendary status in the music-scene, with most of his songs being well-known and popular. However, if I had to pick it would be ‘(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea’. This song itself is so energy-filled and funky that it’s no surprise it gained the excited attention of many across the audience.

Alongside the upbeat, energy-filled tunes, Costello also demonstrated how his voice is still unmatched when it comes to the slower hits. ‘Alison’, in which the lights were all turned pink for, provided the audience with a fantastic rendition of such a gorgeous love song.

I cannot write this review without also drawing attention to the two backing singers. Their energy matched Costello’s completely, and their vocals complemented his perfectly. They added to the grooviness of the night, and also provided the audience with some extremely energy-filled moves. It was clear throughout Costello’s performance how grateful he was to each of his band members. He introduced them all at least three times, and each time the audience response got greater and greater.

One of the most memorable moments of the night was definitely Costello’s re-entering the stage for the encore sporting an even snazzier, gold sparkly jacket. The encore was one of the most wholesome I have ever witnessed, with many audience members evidently reliving their youths with everyone on their feet and grooving for the final three songs. ‘Pump It Up’, being such an upbeat song, was very lively and the audience just couldn’t help but move with excitement. As Costello and the band finished the show on ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding’, it seemed an important message to leave on, with many audience members holding up peace signs and singing out the lyrics. And, with a final thanks to his wonderful band and a quick, short recognition for himself, they left the stage, leaving the standing ovation in loud applause and cheers. It was very, very memorable and I would relive this experience over and over if I could.

Tickets for the remainder of Elvis Costello & The Imposters’ tour can be bought here


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Live Editor 2019/20 & third year English student. Probably watching Gilmore Girls

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