Elvis Costello later completed a memorable Saturday hat-trick, by turning in a performance which surpassed even Van's. Gone were the stage props, the audience requests and all the attendant showbiz frippery which marred his recent London shows. This was just Elvis, his guitar, piano and songs. He was magnificent.
Mixing choice cut oldies with the best of Spike, he renewed the currency of every one with subtle inflections or minor chord changes, to frustrate those who would have (mis)treated him as an upmarket singalong Chas & Dave type. Each word of "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," for instance, was squeezed out as if pushed through reluctant, unyielding teeth. It prompted the thought that while much is justly made of Costello's writing talents, his voice — originally little more than a verbal vehicle — has now acquired the expressiveness of a truly great singer. His encore of "I Want You" was pushed, twisted and stretched until it finally cracked with an emotionally lacerating intensity — a moment of high drama only topped by a pulverising rendition of "Tramp The Dirt Down," proving no less effective for being the inevitable finale.
On this kind of form, Elvis is peerless and it was a privilege to witness him in such outstanding fettle.