When Elvis Costello visited Seattle last May, he was intent upon proving himself a man who could still rock. Having just released When I Was Cruel, his first album with The Attractions since 1994's Brutal Youth, he was out to win back the fans he may have lost by his crooning excursions with Burt Bacharach and the Brodsky Quartet.
Although he succeeded in reclaiming his crown as rock's wordiest rebel, Costello neglected a large part of his catalog last time around, an omission he made up for Sunday.
Opening his 2½-hour show with "Tokyo Storm Warning," from 1986's Blood and Chocolate, the black-clad Irishman lacerated the Paramount Theatre with 28 songs that spanned his prolific career.
Backed again by The Imposters, featuring drummer Pete Thomas, keyboardist Steve Nieve and bassist Davey Farragher, Costello delivered the rarely performed "You Little Fool" and a version of "The Other Side of Summer" that dropped the surf music parody for a stripped-down snarl.
The nine songs he performed from When I Was Cruel were looser and more assured than they were four months ago.
With the world on the brink of war, the ironies of "Peace Love and Understanding" were particularly timely, as was a passionate rendition of "Shipbuilding," inspired by the Falkland Islands invasion but having a broader significance for today's precarious world situation.