"It's Saturday night in Sheffield, what do you say?" Declan MacManus cries out a handful of chords into his show in the heart of South Yorkshire on a drizzle-flecked weekend evening.
Outside, the wind is starting to get up, but nestled in the Grade II-listed City Hall, the man best known as Elvis Costello is holding court in rambling, intermittently baggy but mostly engaged fashion.
"We've been backstage with the holy water and burning sage," he quips, "because there were a few scenes back there in 1978, I can tell you!"
It was a real pleasure to see the 65-year-old Paddington native back on stage filled with vim and vigour. Two years ago, Costello was forced to suspend a run of shows after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He was backed by his current band The Imposters, on Saturday evening, which includes two players from The Attractions in the shape of pianist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas — as they work their way through a two-and-a-quarter-hour set that spans the gamut of his career.
There's a looser feel to both him and Nieve than the rest of the show, the pair often seem to drizzle notes and melodies over taut backing rhythms rather than adhere to the right notes in the right order, leading to a particularly improvised feel throughout.
Opener "Strict Time" mixes guitar fuzz and piano grooves; "Clubland" rears up with choppy bursts; "Green Shirt" burbles with underlaying shots of synth organ. A clutch of songs from his 2018 Grammy-winning record Look Now prove pleasingly watertight compositions amid the insidious slink of "Watching the Detectives."
When Costello takes to the keys himself for a trio of ballads — "Good Year for the Roses," "A Face in the Crowd" and a gospel-tinged version of "I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down" — there is a noticeable lag of energy from some quarters of the crowd, particularly as the latter breaks down into elongated soloing.
But the old school boogie of "Mystery Dance" brings the tempo back to full speed and from there, it becomes a practical romp through the hits; "Alison," "Pump It Up," "Everyday I Write the Book" among them.
After a funked-up outro from the latter allows for band introductions, Costello looks relatively set to exit stage right — but he serves up a final one-two punch of "Oliver's Army" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" that has scores of middle-aged punters dancing with hip-restricted shuffles in the aisles. Now that's a finish.