Saturday, October 31, 2015

Elvis Costello in conversation with Nick Hornby at Royal Festival Hall - 29 October 2015 New Book, Q&A and signing

Went to see Elvis in conversation with Nick Hornby at the Royal Festival Hall. 
Here's a lad selling the book.  We like the T-shirt.  Book is called Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink (very good Halloween title, I thought). 
Nick Hornby, a fan from day one, introduced Elvis. He came on stage in his stetson with his book and told us later he was touched that so many had turned out. He had done an early MELTDOWN FESTIVAL at the Royal Festival Hall and now lives in Canada - I think he had some unexpectedly nice associations with the room...  He told us he'd filmed the Jonathan Ross Show (for Saturday 31 October) the night before and Priscilla Presley bought him a guitar to play that Elvis had played.  He said he never thought that would ever happen to him.
 Elvis talked about his home life, growing up and having a dad in the Joe Loss Orchestra. They played a clip from him singing "If I had a hammer" - the band in cream suits - his dad had some sharp dance moves and wore the same national health specs that Elvis Costello was still wearing.   His dad played at the Royal Command Performance with the Beatles who Elvis referred to as "The One Direction of their day" and they projected up the programme for us to see. 

He said his dad would play songs over and over quite loudly to learn the words which was different to going round his friends' houses and having their dads call out for them to turn the music down!. 

He played us the first song he ever wrote that I believe he said no one had heard before...

Nick Hornby had a notebook and instead of only asking questions, he asked Elvis to pick a number. He had a numbered list of names and song titles. I think 13 was Daryl Hall.  Elvis remembered being in a make up room with a disheveled Mr Hall who had been out for a few drinks the few days before the show and how the make up lady was able to transform Mr Hall into a dreamboat, whilst he was transformed into a man still "looking like a sack of clothes."  

It was obvious that Elvis had a lot of stories (probably why the book is a doorstop!) and told Nick he could remember most of the songs he had written -- which is a HUGE number ... and probably had a story about the amazing, varied amount of people he's worked with over the years.  He continues to write with Burt Backarach. 

It came across that Elvis had never doubted he was going to be a musician. Even when he was working at Elizabeth Arden in his white scientist IT coat. People left him alone and he was able to write in the boredom of the job...  The scene of which is now immortalised with this mural: 
 He also received songs in dreams for people ... which came up in the conversation when he was asked about his experience with Roy Orbison.  "I had a dream about writing for him, and others actually, on a handful of occasions." Nick asked who else? And Elvis said, "Dusty Springfield, Johnny Cash..." 

He mentioned that at some point he was "trying to rid the world of all the alcohol by drinking it " but now, implied, he was sober and obviously coherent to us. 

Before he answered anything about his relationship with his current wife Diana Krall he was almost sure to mention that, "I've loved everybody I've ever loved" he talked about how apparently Diana Krall is sort of a female Elvis Costello in that her life seems to have mirrored his pretty much.  Her dad was in a band and she can play and remember a ton of songs. 

During the Q&A he was kind about Steve Nieve. 

He took a question from one lady who said ... "This is a yes or no question really but, when you play England next, could you play Indoor Fireworks." He answered simply, "Yes."

The evening felt very relaxed and cozy. It had rained on the South Bank. The leaves are all colourful now and the nights are closing in...  He read a bit from the book - (apologies ahead of time for the poor quality of my video here) ... and then he sang a few songs ... Guess what he sang.  Here's a tissue. 

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