On his first night at the Palais, Elvis Costello held a packed house captive for some two and a half hours. In that time he dispelled all the fears of his fans that perhaps he was going off the boil and instead established himself as a supreme live performer.
Onstage Costello is the master of all moods. Long gone is the image of the angry young man. boggle-eyed and ranting. Behind those shades, dressed in that dapper suit and gleaming red shoes resides someone who has cultivated a great rapport with his audience. He pleads for and is given help for his throat troubles which the previous week almost ruined his Dublin show.
He gives the crowd what they want. Backed by the masterful Attractions. Costello takes a journey through the greatest back catalogue of songs to have been compiled in the last decade. The set produces a blend of sarcasm and wit, incision and observation, talk and tease, bitterness and poignance. Every mood is captured perfectly, from the pulsing, unnerving "Clubland" to the plaintive "Shipbuilding" and the rocking teasing splendour of "Mystery Dance."
Costello and the Attractions hold their audience because they play with confidence and ability. Their style is direct, their performance rich and their music both enjoyable and important — they have no need for dry ice, huge lighting rigs or elaborate stage sets.
His genius is on display now, and should not be overlooked. At the Palais a great misshaped monster of a concert hall, Costello never put a foot wrong and established himself, yet again, as This Year's Model.