Costello: My Flame Burns Blue

"This is a rare thing in live albums: a souvenir equal to my fond memory of this big-swing project, which I saw reprised at New York's Lincoln Center by Costello and Holland's Metropole Orkest just four days after they recorded these performances on July 9th, 2004, at the North Sea Jazz Festival. I wish there had been room on this single-CD version of the original two-hour show for the luscious tension they lavished on ""Someone Took the Words Away,"" from Costello's 2003 album North. But there is no shortage of risk, grandeur or fun, in ingenious, moving combination: the jabbing Gil Evans-like brass and New Orleans-R&B rumble in the cover of Dave Bartholomew's ""That's How You Got Killed Before""; the tonal bloom and anguished vocal detail of ""Put Away Forbidden Playthings""; the lethal reggae of ""Watching the Detectives,"" rescored with orchestral shock-and-awe. And when the Orkest hit the swelling climaxes of ""God Give Me Strength,"" Costello is up there with them, singing with a force and clarity as big and regal as the music around him."