Napoleon Dynamite has the floor. And there's a very big wheel behind him. But this isn't Winning Streak — there are no cash prizes here. Just song titles ("Oliver's Army," "Everyday I Write the Book," "Alison" — the list goes on). And the pretty assistant is watching.
She's making her way around the venue, looking for the next 'contestant'. Catch her eye and chances are you'll be invited to take a spin on the wheel. Maybe afterwards you'll enjoy a cocktail in the 'society lounge' and wiggle your ass in a tiny cage. Or maybe the little man in the purple suit will hand you a hammer (for the high striker). Ah yes, Elvis Costello has gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that his is a show like nobody else's. And, for the most part, the Spectacular Spinning Songbook works a treat.
It really is a rock 'n' roll circus. There's the ringmaster in his top hat (Costello, or 'Napoleon'); the supporting cast (his sublime backing band The Imposters and the dancers, the colourful props (that wheel sure is cool) and, of course, the star attraction. Which could either be Costello's voice or his rich catalogue.
It's a ridiculously fun and spontaneous show. It's also a brave move, handing over control of your set-list to the audience. But a surprisingly youthful Costello (57) is a master showman; a smooth operator with a cracking sense of humour and a superb array of players by his side. They can pretty much handle anything, effortlessly churning out a delightful combination of rollicking beats, bouncing keys and infectious riffs ("I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down," "Pump it Up" and "High Fidelity"). It's just a shame that the final hour lets the side down.
The wheel takes a back seat. Elvis goes acoustic. "I Want You" lasts forever. It's a bit of a disappointment after everything that's come before.
"I'm afraid I won't know where to stop," he sings, dragging out an underwhelming finale. It would have been nice to come away wanting more, but by the time he and his gang eventually leave the stage, we're well and truly spent.