Filing in with the chattering masses, it's clear Elvis Costello is going all-out in his vaudevillian theme. A third of the stage is occupied by his Spinning Wheel Of Song (aka the showbiz marvel of our age), there is a small Society Bar, a trompe-lceil backdrop and the Hostage To Fortune Go-Go Cage with strings of beads for bars.
Looking surprisingly at home, Joe Camilleri (whose song "So Young" Costello covered in 1987) brings one-time Jo Jo Zep and The Black Sorrows members George Butrumlis and Jeff Burstin on accordion and guitar to flesh out his tunes. Camilleri's own compositions sound right at home next to some choice covers, though it's the set-closing take on Willy DeVille's "No Such Pain As Love" that highlights Camilleri's Van Morrison-esque delivery and the trio's musical chops.
With minimal fuss, The Imposters, a four-piece including original Attractions keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas, and go-go dancer Miss Kelly (aka the former Mother Superior Of Our Lady Of Perpetual Torment) unleash a seamless burst of "I Hope You're Happy Now," Nick Lowe's "Heart Of The City," and "Uncomplicated" and "Radio, Radio," before stopping to say hello. Donning a top hat and grabbing a cane, Costello introduces himself as Napoleon Dynamite (a character he invented in the early-'80s) and draws the first audience member up to spin the wheel, who selects "Oliver's Army" and is seated on stage with a drink. Nieve's complex keyboard playing is a genuine marvel and it's rare for a talent this big to be given the freedom he is to pluck motifs from songs and reinvent whole sections of others, almost teasing our memories.
The next audience member up is Sam who spins "My All Time Doll" and chooses to go-go dance in the cage in a manner that causes Costello's rich, expressive voice to drift off-mic and crack. With Sam happily back in the crowd, couple Erin and Michael spin up "The River In Reverse" and "I Want You," both showcasing Costello's penchant for slipping better-known songs into his own (in this case "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," and a later segue from "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes" into "Purple Rain" is a genuine laugh-out-loud moment).
Though due for a brief encore, the set is barely two-thirds done as a brace of classics follow "Chelsea," "High Fidelity," a cover of the Stones' "Out Of Time," "Watching The Detectives," "Pump It Up" and a closing "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love And Understanding?" Though Costello sometimes fumbles with the guitar parts and plays with lyrics in an offhand way, his wry wit and deft charm fuel the show. He appears to be having as much fun as we are, which really isn't that hard.