On what looked set to be one of the last major concerts in the capital before coronavirus isolation took hold, Elvis Costello was determined to give us a good time. "It's Friday night in London. What could possibly go wrong?" he asked, and the answer lay in the empty seats of this sold-out show.
Full credit then for Costello getting into the Dunkirk spirit, with his old band the Imposters going back to their pub rock roots with stripped-back arrangements, two backing singers forever encouraging the crowd to get on their feet and clap along, and all the hits. This was not a time to get all arty and serious. This was a time for good cheer.
The star of the night was feeling nostalgic too, which, added to the keyboard player Steve Nieve's gold lamé jacket and plenty of stylised post-war visuals including a film-noir scene for "Watching The Detectives," gave the general feeling of a show band offering Friday night escapism.
Costello gave us a timely honouring of the NHS for keeping his 92-year-old mother alive, recalled his intimidation at working with Carole King ("She wrote 'The Locomotion' at 14") and claimed to have been haunted by the ghost of his great comedy hero Sid James at a concert in Sunderland. This was all about leaning on old comforts as an uncertain period takes hold.
Then there were 43 years of songs to pull on, from the swirling organ thud of "Pump It Up" to a lamenting "Alison" that made way for a James Brown-style soul revue as Costello introduced the band. George Jones's "Good Year For The Roses" was a highlight, the poignancy of the words about a man left lonely brought out as Costello played piano and the backing singers leaned against it like we were in an intimate supper club, not a mid-sized concert venue.
"We're here to play the pre-Brexit, post-virus blues," said Costello. By an encore of "Oliver's Army" we had forgotten about both, if only for a couple of hours.