Elvis Costello Makes Quite A Spectacle

Sundance Channel’s recently wrapped two year run of Spectacle: starring Elvis Costello With… needs to continue. Costello, who plays host, band leader, chief questioner, and biggest fan, has a hit on his hands. With each two hour show, Costello delves into his eclectic guests’ musical background and gives the audience a glimpse at the musicians rarely seen. Season one featured Lou Reed, James Taylor, The Police, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, and Tony Bennett, to name a few. And season two paid homage to Sheryl Crow, Levon Helm, U2’s Bono and the Edge, Lyle Lovett, and Bruce Springsteen.

Costello’s candid questions and heartfelt respect for his fellow musicians completely sets this show apart from your typical rock interview. Two seasons, while long on highlights, are the perfect set up for season three and another round with Elvis at the mic. His passion for the music of his peers is demonstrated not only by his knowledge of the craft of songwriting, but his vast knowledge of music itself. Costello’s questions and conversation are littered with appreciation of music history and bring forth tales behind his guests’ creative process.

Elvis is first to hit the stage each night and usually starts the show with a song either by or connected to the featured artists. What follows next is an unscripted conversation interspersed with performance. Some of the versions played are either stripped down takes or re-interpretations of the guests’ more obscure hits.

With Spectacle, Costello is able to go to places most interviews can’t. He displays a very candid approach and gets his guests talking about their influences and love of music, which deepens the understanding behind some of the artists’ finer moments. If you missed the Spectacle on the Sundance Channel, you can find it currently released on DVD.

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