With the upcoming publication of his autobiography this autumn as the next milestone in his diverse artistic practice, the Elvis Costello approach to performance is a constantly evolving fascination. Radically different from his last solo appearance in Scotland, at the Usher Hall in October of last year, this show was also vastly different from those that have preceded it on the current tour.
Although the structure was lightly worn, this "Detour" show was nothing less than a personal overview of the past century of popular music, during the last third of which Costello can claim a significant place. An archive of his own old videos preceded the two-and-a-quarter hour set, allowing the opening quip: "You can all go home now, you've heard all the hits."
He then did what he has done nowhere else this time out and, perversely, played all his early hits, opening with "Red Shoes," finishing with "Peace, Love And Understanding," and including "Good Year For The Roses" and "Oliver's Army" in a duet section with his brother Ronan MacManus, who had also provided the support set.
Family provided the spine of the show. Footage of his father, Ross MacManus, singing "If I Had A Hammer" with the Joe Loss Band, was followed by Costello appearing where the screen had been, playing "Alison" and "Pump It Up" on his familiar Fender Jazzmaster. Memories of his grandparents were the link to repertoire like Nat King Cole's "Walking My Baby Back Home," dedicated to his own twin eight-year-old sons, and featuring the "lost art" of whistling.
It is not the only lost art of which Costello is a careful curator, and the continuing expansion of his own skill-set included some beautiful piano playing for songs that included Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You" and a glorious slow gospel version of Sam & Dave's "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down."