So, hot on the heels of a brilliant album Elvis Costello returned to the town he lovingly refers to as his "home" to play a sold out show in this cold boxing stadium. Witness to many bloody battles in the past, tonight seemed like it was headed the same way as Costello initially struggled for his sound. Even an early, spirited "Watching The Detectives" and a prompted audience sing-along, didn't help proceedings, but instead of going down for the count, Costello chose to regroup backstage and "take a five-minute break to sort out some sound problems."
Good thing he did as well, because upon returning to effectively start the show again, Costello treated the audience to a focused, oft genius, 2½ hour marathon set. Now, Costello's band were in flying form cleverly mixing a dance-hall mood with just a dash of alt-country, without ever distracting from the main man and his wonderful tunes.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the performance sometimes smacked of a sinister underbelly, with Elvis, sweat-drenched and hunched over a sampler, conducting weird and wonderful layers of electronic noise to strum over. This approach gave wings to tracks such as "Spooky Girlfriend" and "When l Was Cruel" (which sounded as vital as any of his older tunes) and provided a dense, blue atmosphere for the beautiful and timely "Shipbuilding."
And so to the encore, and boy, what an encore! Costello returned to the stage three times, the entire stadium rushing the stage to get down to some Costello classics. "Radio, Radio," "Oliver's Army," the Dylan-esque "Episodes Of Blonde," the evergreen "Alison" ensured Elvis (and audience) left the building in great spirits — and as cliched as it sounds, proved that the man's aim is still true.