With a repertoire dating back to the late ’70s, Elvis Costello's stop at the Balboa Theatre featured an eclectic mix of old, new, and rare. Playing in a solo, mostly acoustic setting, the U.K.-born singer-songwriter treated the sold-out crowd to selections ranging from his most current release Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, produced by T-Bone Burnett, to digging deep into his songbook for audience sing-along "God's Comic."
Costello has a distinct voice and method of phrasing well suited to a solo performance; his singing seemed to gain strength as the evening wore on. Highlights included "Watching the Detectives," with an extended ending, crowd favorites "Alison" and "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," and Costello's rendering of Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)."
Costello’s rendition of the bawdy "From Sulphur to Sugarcane" (co-written with T-Bone Burnett) was part of an encore set that included "Good Year for the Roses" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" The performance was well paced and, as a fellow-attendee stated, "It was one of those shows you wish would never stop; a rare and delightful treat."