ON THE ROAD: Steve Nieve plays Elvis Costello @ City Winery / New York, NY / October 3, 2014

DSCN0741Is it odd for a musical performer to present an evening primarily focused on the music of another artist? Not if you have been an integral part of that artist’s career in the way that Steve Nieve has for Elvis Costello. On his brief tour of the US, this masterful keyboardist of Royal College of Music pedigree has taken to not only spotlight the music he has made with Costello, but also share some interesting tales of their history together as well. The bulk of Nieve’s tenure as a musician has been in Costello’s employ. With his first job that of an Attraction in 1978, Nieve was an integral member of Costello’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band through their abandonment in 1986. After an eight-year break, he rejoined the reunited band in 1994 and has pretty much been involved with most of what EC has done since. In fact, considering his current tenure with Costello’s re-christened Imposters and their occasional stripped down Costello-Nieve live collaborations, Nieve probably is the musician who has shared the most notes with Costello. DSCN0752Like most of those who have worked closely with Costello, Nieve has pretty much here-to-fore been quiet about his relationship with EC. However, while tonight was far from a “tell-all,” we did get to hear some wonderfully-told stories about their times together including how Nieve first became an Attraction and about Costello’s uncanny ability to pick the best-sounding Steinway piano. But, the message consistently conveyed throughout the evening was his respect and admiration for the music of the man he has so brilliantly served for all these years. The entertaining evening was also unexpectedly much more than just instrumental performances of Costello songs. To spice things up, Nieve brought along some guest vocalist friends to accompany him on his journey. While none were featured names, they all shared with their host a common love for Costello’s music. The central vocalist for the night was a suitably-named Frenchman, Tall Ulyss, with whom Nieve has worked on some of his side projects. In addition to two other guest artists, there were even a few snippets of Steve Nieve vocals scattered throughout the evening, something that was seldom, if ever heard while on stage with EC. DSCN0744Despite their long standing association, in all the time Costello and Nieve have worked together, their co-writing experience has been limited to only a pair of songs. Both (“You Lie Sweetly” and “Passionate Fight”) were exquisitely presented tonight with vocals by Ulyss. For this writer’s pleasure, the vocal highlight of the evening though was Brooklyn duo Elysian Fields’ performance of 1979’s “Chemistry Class.” While it may have not been up to par with EC’s vocal, it was sung which such a passion and reverence that it gave me chills feeling that the artist and I shared such a mutual love for this often-forgotten gem. DSCN0749While tonight’s sold-out show was clearly not for everyone, it was one very endearing to any serious fan of Mr. Elvis Costello. I include myself among that class and loved every minute of this highly entertaining evening. Thanks to Mr. Steve Nieve for hosting such an enjoyable celebration of these songs that will certainly live long past our years.   SETLIST:

  1. Muriel on Main Beach (Steve Nieve song)
  2. Shipbuilding
  3. The Birds Will Still Be Singing
  4. Accidents Will Happen
  5. Veronica
  6. Alison
  7. Country Darkness (Tall Ulyss vocal)
  8. Oliver’s Army (Tall Ulyss vocal)
  9. [story]
  10. Everyday I Write the Book (Leslie Mendelson vocal)
  11. The Loved Ones
  12. Revolution (Tall Ulyss song and vocal)
  13. Confident Again (Steve Nieve song and vocal)
  14. Chemistry Class (Elysian Fields vocal)
  15. New Amsterdam (Elysian Fields vocal)
  16. You Lie Sweetly (Tall Ulyss vocal)
  17. Passionate Fight (Tall Ulyss vocal)
  18. Amy’s Adirondack in Sagaponack
  19. (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea
  20. Green Shirt
  21. Beyond Belief (vocals by all)
  22. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding (vocals by all)

BAND: Steve Nieve – Piano

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