Elvis Costello is no spectacle. His show in Belfast last night for the most part lacked lustre, excitement and a crisp sound system.
It had its good points. It had its bad points, but most of the two hours he was on the stage of the freshly painted Ulster Hail was mediocre.
The pinnacle without doubt was the second encore when the weedy bespectacled singer/songwriter came on solo with "There's Nothing To Grow Up For," an evocative performance which silenced the hall and made it explode in applause.
Other highlights included his latest single "The Only Flame In Town". and the oldies from his collection of hits over the years. The band seemed a little rusty on one or two of them with a few dud notes creeping in especially during "Girls Talk."
He only seemed to be getting into his stride during the three encores which took in his solo and his classic "Oliver's Army." There was also "Red Shoes," "Inch By Inch" and "It's Getting Mighty Crowded In Here" leading up to a rocky climax with the bouncy "Rock It Up."
A special mention must go to the warm up band — The Pogues who amazed the crowd by pumping out their punky mixture of Twelfth music and rebel songs.
Not only were they an amazing sound, the band had a powerful visual presence as every eye in the hall watched one of them bashing his head with a tin beer tray and wondering which would survive the longer.
Overall the show was better than Elvis' last one in Belfast in '83.