READERS will want to know just how much variety there is in the reinvention of the Golden Age of Variety that is The Revolver Tour, in which the Spectacular Spinning Songbook, which allows audience members to select the music Costello and The Imposters will play, is only one element.
The answer is that what the great songsmith promises, in the character of Napoleon Dynamite, urbane emcee with top hat and cane, he delivers. Manchester heard a set at least 50% different from the one in Glasgow on Friday, including the pop soul of I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down and High Fidelity and a piano feature with Steve Nieve of the rarely heard Talking in the Dark and Charles Aznavour's She from the soundtrack of Notting Hill.
However, the Apollo was also comparatively shortchanged with a concert that came in at just two-and-a-half hours without a break.
The added attractions to the bill in Glasgow included a folk-punk quartet led by Costello's younger brother, Ronan McManus, fresh from their own gig at Parkhead stadium, a comely wench adding the odd gloss of musical saw to a few numbers, and many more his country and Americana songs.
All the echoes of an earlier era of music hall not only suits Costello's recent material – particularly in a later solo section that ends with a spot of ukulele strumming – but allows him to dip into any era of his career, as well as including reference to the recent death of his big-band singer father, and some sharp barbs about Leveson and the Government. In both cities, the song that brought the audience roaring to its feet was the Spike album's anticipation of the death of Margaret Thatcher, Tramp the Dirt Down.