Punk, classical, jazz and pop. Elvis Costello has touched on them all, but his latest album, The Delivery Man, has all been about country rock.
Joined by The Imposters, the veteran rocker strides on to stage promptly at 7.30pm and makes an energetic start: one sadly muffled by the immensity of The Bridgewater Hall.
It is a heartfelt rendition of ballad Country Darkness — from his current release — that sets the tone for the two-hour set. Pete Thomas (drums), Davey Faragher (bass) and Steve Nieve (keyboards) soar through a surging "Needle Time" and title track, "The Delivery Man." And Costello — donning a black suit set off by a pair of shimmering silver shoes — begins to flaunt his harmonic mastery, making a brief return to his back catalogue to demonstrate the fragile melodicism of "In the Darkest Place" (from Painted From Memory) before a crowd pleasing "Good Year For The Roses" from his 1981, Almost Blue album.
Hecklers spur the ex-Stiff Records star into some much-needed interaction: "Go back to St Helens," he jokes, adding, "Who's from Eccles? (cheers) Bury? (more cheers)."
"Tonight the monkey will speak," shouts Costello, dramatically introducing "Monkey To Man" (an answer to New Orleans' legend Dave Bartholomew's 1950s hit "The Monkey)."
The crowd stand to receive an epic rendition of "Pump It Up" and "Shipbuilding" before Costello underlines the night with a tender rendition of "The Scarlet Tide." With that, The Delivery Man is gone.