Maybe it's because he's a little older and wiser but Elvis Costello who usually adopts an almost paranoic stance managed to turn in a stunningly powerful performance at the Olympia Theatre last night and seem to enjoy himself immensely at the same time.
In a comprehensive performance of songs selected from his ten-year career, he was called back on stage four times by a delirious crowd adamant not to let such a good thing end easily. The lucky ones will be going back for his solo performance there tonight and a stint with guests tomorrow night.
His latest album Blood and Chocolate of course featured largely in the night's selection of hit singles, rock and roll, love songs and incisive and sometimes vicious, ballads which were all marked by that clever turn of phrase that has always characterised Costello.
Costello, real name Declan McManus, slipped into another alter ego earlier this year known as Declan Patrick Aloyusious McManus, before recently adopting his latest guise, Napoleon Dynamite. But the various masks are only an indication of the wealth of ideas that inhabit this tortured soul.
Backed up by his even more vital than ever band the Attractions, Costello, dressed in dark suit, striped shirt and brown shoes which made him look even more than ever like the knock-kneed mis-shapen misanthrope of rock, stopped one song mid-way to admonish stewarts trying to marshall back to their seats those trying to dance. Just to emphasise his point, he launched into the frantic Trogg's "Wild Thing" which simply ended the dispute.
Among The many highlights was "Tokyo Storm Warning" with its wonderful line: "Death wears a big hat, 'Cos he's a big bloke"; and some experimental guitar and dance work from Costello.
His wife Cait O'Riordan joined the band on stage, playing guitar during the final song, "Poor Napoleon," which was played very loudly and in darkness except for strobe lights. Weird. But amazing.