It's all a very long way from the Village Bowl in 1978 when Elvis Costello lead a packed house of sweat-drenched punks in a chorus against the one pitiful soul who dared spit at the bespectacled one.
These days the specs remain, but there's only the odd hint of that early bile even though Friday's show opened with the line: "I wish I didn't hate you half as much as I do."
But it was a subdued affair. Anyone expecting "Oliver's Army" and "I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea" was in the wrong place. This was Elvis' show, played the way he wanted it, at the pace he wanted (90 minutes, no interval, no support) and in the order he wanted. "New Amsterdam" segued into The Beatles' "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away"; a neo-dub version of "Inch By Inch" gave way to "Fever." "Almost Blue" was taken straight, no rocks, "Good Year For the Roses" sounded larger than his hit single, while "Watching the Detectives" had all the same ingredients but tasted like a whole new dish. "Shipbuilding" brought the house down.
"Indoor Fireworks" got a rare run-out, as did the gutsy "45" and the McCartney collaboration "Nothing Clings Like Ivy."
But the best was left to the very end — and it wasn't even his song. Costello's lifelong love affair with southern soul found him summoning every ounce of feeling for that most telling and tender tale of stolen love, "Dark End of the Street." The song was Dan Penn's, the original belonged to Percy Sledge. This version was pure Costello playing keeper of the flame; the tears were my own.
None of Costello's contemporaries can hold a flame to his skill and the fact he's still up there taking chances at his own expense is to be applauded long and loud. Luckily, nobody spat!