Playing his first full-frontal assault rock gig in Dublin since 1994, Costello and The Imposters (The Attractions by any other name, as long time keyboardist Steve Naive and drummer Pete Thomas are present and correct; while new bassist Davey Faragher stoically steps into Bruce Thomas's hush puppies) book-ended the set proper with "Miracle Man" and "Alison," two songs from his debut album, My Aim Is True. Sandwiched in-between and seeping out of the encores was The Elvis Costello Songbook, warts and all.
And it was a warts and all concert, make no mistake about it. Sound difficulties created a schism Costello just about plugged, although a PA buzz from beginning to end scuppered quieter material, such as "Almost Blue," "Good Year for the Roses" and "Alison."
Quiet, however, clearly wasn't writ large on Costello's set list, which was another minor problem, especially when his hands of concrete scraped out savage guitar riffs and notes in several displays of messy rock 'n' roll self-indulgence.
But such ungainly, typically cantankerous, strategies were balanced by many moments of unadulterated beauty. Lost gems from his back catalogue were played one after the other: "You Little Fool," "Human Hands," "You Belong To Me," "Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head," "Uncomplicated," "I Hope You're Happy Now" — each of them furiously paced but exacting, controlled and incisive.
A pin-dropping version of "Shipbuilding," the blind fury of "Radio Radio," the pop-perfect "Tear Off Your Own Head," and a couple more rarities ("My Mood Swings" from The Big Lebowski soundtrack, "The Judgement," a song written especially for Solomon Burke's latest album) were cast into the atmosphere and absorbed into the bloodstream.