Can it be that the fiercely independent-minded Costello is not beyond critical influence? After the out-of-town try-out for his UK tour, during a recent festival in an East coast city, The Herald's John Williamson expressed reservations about the set list. Beginning his eight-date trek in Glasgow, Costello has made amends with a beautifully constructed sequence of songs that combined half of the new When I Was Cruel album and an inspired selection from his back catalogue, both familiar and rare.
Contrary as ever, a cacophony of shouted requests is met with an obscure contribution to the soundtrack The Big Lebowski that even the diehard fans don't know, but elsewhere favourites like "Watching the Detectives," "Good Year for the Roses," and "Shipbuilding" are present in strong and memorable readings. Only a muddy sound mix and some surprisingly tentative singing from the man himself in the first quarter of the set (both remedied in time for the new single, "45") stopped the evening catching fire earlier. One man on incendiary business was Steve Nieve on the keyboards, who was on fine flailing form from the off, adding a wild theremin gloss to the opener, "Tokyo Storm Warning."
Its inclusion was one of the strengths of a set that found room for "So Like Candy" and "The Other Side of Summer" from the Mighty Like a Rose album of a decade ago and a smoky "Almost Blue" sporting a fine melodica solo from Nieve. Almost exactly 25 years to the day since Costello first appeared in Scotland at The Silver Thread in Paisley, the man has such a body of work to draw on he is truly spoiled for choice.