"On this tour, we're going to play in several places called Philharmonies, that's new for us, isn't it?" In the middle of the concert he gave on Friday 22 September as part of the Philharmonie du Luxembourg, Elvis Costello thus apostrophized his accomplice, the pianist Steve Nieve.
The two musicians who have been playing together since 1978 ("Steve was 17, I was 22," says Costello) have been performing together for several months in what looks like an overview of a long-term career: 32 studio albums since 1977.
At 69 years old, Elvis Costello finds some cities in which he had not performed for many years, such as Paris: his last concert in our capital dates back to October 2014! It is thanks to the cooperation between the Philharmonies de Paris and Luxembourg, and other European venues, that this small tour can be held today, private promoters being reluctant to produce a "cult" artist like this darling of the critics, who has never garnered great public success in our countries.
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Partnership between ten cinemas in continental Europe
It was in a TGV from Paris, flanked by a tour manager and a sound engineer, that Costello and Steve Nieve arrived in Luxembourg on Friday 22 in the afternoon. Luxembourg, where he had performed only once, had put the small dishes in the big ones to welcome him. It was in the Grand Auditorium of this superb venue, inaugurated in June 2005, that the concert was held.
On stage, in optimal listening comfort, the English rocker and his pianist alter ego offer a moment as rare as it is spontaneous. Alfonso Salgueiro
The majestic building, designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc, benefited from the expertise of renowned acoustician Albert Xu. Designed around 823 white columns representing a forest, this impressive facility houses three rooms: the Grand Auditorium (1400 seats), a room reserved for chamber music and jazz (333 seats) and an open space mainly dedicated to children's projects. With more than 400 shows a year, the Philharmonie is a bubbling space in the heart of Europe, in a city with 170 different nationalities and 3 official languages (German, French, English), just 25 kilometers from the French border.
Directed by Stephan Gehmacher, the Philharmonie programs 70% classical but also jazz, pop and song. Francisco Sassetti, programmer, explains that the presence of Elvis Costello in its walls is the result of a partnership between ten venues in continental Europe.
A moment as rare as it is spontaneous
On stage, in optimal listening comfort, the English rocker and his pianist alter ego offer a moment as rare as it is spontaneous. The complicity between the two musicians is evident from the first notes. On guitar, acoustic, classical or electric, Elvis Costello revisits the pages of a repertoire that has seen him collaborate in all directions, from Paul McCartney to Burt Bacharach and his wife Diana Krall.
The voice is sometimes worn and struggles to rise in the treble, but the presence and humor of the performer are intact. The emotion embraces when he interprets Shipbuilding, his most beautiful composition, or the emblematic What's So Funny about Peace, Love and Understanding, on which he is joined on vocals by the exceptional Steve Nieve.
A resident of Paris for 30 years, the Englishman has reserved some surprises for the public of the French capital for the concert this Sunday evening which will be held in another Philharmonie, that of Paris this time.