It is a measure of the richness of his repertoire and the eclecticism of his approach that Costello can return within eight months to the same venue with the same long-standing musical cohort and perform a concert that is entirely different. This was a celebration of that breadth, as well as of his persistent quality craftsmanship. A master of many styles, the triumph of this night was that it created a soundworld that was entirely the construction of the two men on stage, and then explored it thoroughly.
Nieve's Steinway was surrounded by an armoury of sparingly-deployed hi-tech keyboards, while Costello's guitars included the personalised Fender Jazzmaster of his early heyday. The songs, too, ranged from lost seventies gems like "Little Triggers" and "Talking in the Dark" (rescued from a dreadful Linda Ronstadt cover version) to freshly-mined nuggets including the opener "Alibi" ("Stop me if you've heard this"), "Burnt Sugar" (co-written with Carole King), two from his forthcoming song-story, The Delivery Man, and a ballad, "Oh Well," from an upcoming film, Prison Song.
There were radical reworkings for "Temptation," its Booker T and the MGs steal replaced by a piano figure lifted from the soundtrack of Diva, and "Love Field," reborn as an acoustic guitar tune. Veering off into the outer-reaches of improvised din revitalised "Clubland" and "Green Shirt," while "I Want You" and "God's Comic" were given definitive readings.
Although the effect was dissipated over his customary slew of encores in a show approaching the three-hour mark, at its core this was Costello at his very best. And that is very good indeed.