Elvis Costello may have moved on in years from the "Angry Young Man" of the late seventies, but as he proved again last night — back on home ground — there's little sign of him mellowing or losing the sharp anger that has always underscored his remarkable body of work.
Reunited with The Attractions after an eight-year hiatus, it's a refreshed, re-energised Costello on stage.
Opening with an adrenalin rush of five electric guitar rockers with barely a pause for breath it's immediately obvious that Costello and the Attractions are a marriage made in heaven.
Costello has always been a "words" rather than a "tunes" man. For all the eulogies his considerable talent attracts there's been a musical spark lacking on more recent albums like Spike and Mighty Like A Rose.
If his latest, Brutal Youth, shows the special power of The Attractions, then the concert more than confirms it.
Suddenly there's flesh on the musical hones again. Steve Nieve's blistering keyboard runs inspiring an even more foot-stomping malevolence from the Costello guitar.
There's even room for a few "guitar hero" breaks as Pete Thomas on drums and namesake Bruce on bass provide the same solid rhythm section that has underpinned Elvis's finest songs.
The tangental rants of the punk movement from which he emerged. were something that Costello always eschewed. His songs are focussed with needlepoint accuracy and, as his new album proves, he's lost none of the bite. Indeed the venomous vocal performance here, is as fine as any he's given during his career.
It's only the newer songs that are extended much beyond their three to four minute length, and it's amazing just how many songs are crammed into the 100-minute set. Most of the Brutal Youth album is here, along with some of the more obvious favourites.
There's nothing "retro" about the old songs however; they are not merely part of a greatest hits package. Many of the songs are considerably reworked, phrasings are changed, and in the end they don't so much retain and regain vitality.
It's a scorching set, mostly electric, occasionally yet with one marvellous quiet moment when Elvis puts the guitar down for a heartbreaking rendition of "Shipbuilding," the song about the Falklands War with its haunting refrain, "Is it worth it? Diving for real life when we could be diving for pearls."
He obviously enjoys himself but the chatty manner of the "spin the wheel" tour of a few years back has been replaced by a down to business approach.
When he's in this form business is looking good. Long may he flourish.