You don’t pull the plug on Elvis Costello. After two and a half hours of impeccable entertainment, the management at the Brighton Centre decided the audience could take no more and cut the juice.
They were wrong. Elvis blithely carried on, treating the packed crowd to an acoustic version of "Alison" until normal barnstormin’ service was resumed.
When the angry young songwriter made his dyspeptic debut in 1977, waving a fist in the face of the bland pop scene, he looked set to tear the pop playhouse down. But it transpired that the kid was no iconoclast. He came to eulogise the great tunesmiths, not to tear up the songbook.
He rolled into Brighton on Saturday night in the guise of a fairground barker, accompanied by his watertight backing band, a spinning wheel comprising his peerless back catalogue and a go-go dancing cage which was inhabited either by the Mother Superior of Our Lady of Perpetual Torment, Dixie De La Fontaine, or by members of the audience who got their groove on with varying degrees of abandon.
The mysterious Josephine plucked members of the audience from the stalls and guided them to their place beside the star. Former Squeeze frontman Chris Difford showed up to run through "Take Me I’m Yours."
But the highlight of the night was a pitch-perfect rendition of "Shipbuilding," when the conference hall suddenly seemed as intimate as a late-night lounge.