After more than 40 years of making music, singer-songwriter Elvis Costello still looks for new ways to make every performance spontaneous and fresh.
His current tour — titled “Detour” — places the British rocker onstage alone most of the time, with a giant screen behind him displaying words and images relating to his lyrics and his life. The tour brings him Tuesday to Santa Rosa’s Luther Burbank Center.
Costello, 61, has been married to pianist Diana Krall since 2003, and their twin sons were born in December 2006. His memoir, “Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink,” was published late last year. Speaking by phone from his home in Vancouver, B.C., Costello shared his perspective on his life and career, and his ever-changing relationship with his own music.
Q: How did you come up with your plan for the “Detour” tour?
The way I think of these stage shows, really, is that they’re a way of framing the songbook, to generate the element of surprise, for me as much as for the audience. I need to guarantee a good night. I don’t want the same predictable set list. The title of the tour suggests that it takes an unusual route through all the songs I have at my disposal.
Q: How has the tour developed over time?
I originally started with the idea that it was like a radio show that was taking place somewhere imaginary. Then I built it around the television you see behind me on the stage, with all sorts of curious images appearing, which are sometimes non sequiturs and other times are actually directly related to the song I’m singing. I added paraphernalia to the set until the stage became the kind of playground I wanted.
Q: It seems a durable concept. The tour goes on and on.
We’ve already covered a lot of miles with this tour. It’s already been to Europe once. It’s going back to Europe again in the summer. This the third or fourth run through North America.
Q: How does this approach help you stay enthusiastic out on the road?
Obviously I could just stand out there at center stage and sing my songs. But now I have three or four positions on the stage, and they all invite a different style of performance. At the center, I have a lot of electrical guitar sounds available to me. I have a piano. I also have a position where I sit down and pick up a small guitar. That’s one of my favorite moments in the show, because it’s the place where I might tell a story.
Q: How did you happen to team up with Megan and Rebecca Lovell of Larkin Poe for this tour?
It’s very extraordinary to me that, as young as they are, I first met them on my first concert after my boys were born, and now they’re nine years old. I didn’t know Larkin Poe’s ages at the time, but obviously they were teenagers, because they’re in their 20s now. Over the past number of years, they opened for me on a few of theses runs, both in America and Europe. And it’s been a real joy singing together, because three quarters of the way through the show, they come out and it changes the approach.