Whenever Elvis Costello decides to hang up his guitar and call it a day, and judging by his energy and creativity that is a long way off, I don't envy the person who will be given the job of compiling a greatest hits collection because Costello has amassed such a wealth of material over the last few years that it is virtually impossible to single out any ten particular tracks as being his best. This thought was sparked off by his performance at the Stadium on Saturday night when in a very enjoyable concert he delved into almost every phase of his career to produce music that really sparkled at times.
Although empty seats testified to the fact that two cancellations can cause an audience to lose faith, Costello made up for those disappointments by bringing his ever dependable backing band, The Attractions, on a rapid-fire tour of their career. After the sound system had played his current deadly single "Pills and Soap," which he released under the name of The Imposter because of contractual difficulties, the band launched into a medley of songs including "Accidents Will Happen." This was followed by a forceful "King Horse." By this stage any doubts about the quality and intent of Costello's performance had vanished and the excited audience warmed to each number.
However, although the concert maintained its momentum there were some occasional lapses by Costello including a ragged "Watching The Detectives." And later, when a four-piece brass section, the TKO Horns, joined the band onstage they tended to drown out the more subtle touches of the band.
Against that there were some truly memorable moments such as Costello's rivetting version of "New Lace Sleeves." He also found time to give us a taste of his new album, Punch The Clock which is due out in July, but it was the older material which brought the crowd to its feet demanding two encores, one of which featured his and Clive Langer's moving song about the Falklands War, "Shipbuilding," which at last is doing well in the charts for Robert Wyatt.
It was a fine climax to what was overall a good concert. Compared to his last excellent performance here it lacked the same tension, control and impact, but a good Elvis Costello gig is still better than what a lot of other bands can offer as their best.