ELVIS Costello will play a solo show in Harrogate tomorrow night, just as he did all of 30 years ago.
On that occasion in 1984, the London-born singer, songwriter and presenter, performed at the Royal Hall. This weekend, 60-year-old Elvis will be in a different building, bringing his Detour tour to Harrogate International Centre on a 21-date itinerary that began last Saturday in Salisbury after playing on his tod last year at the likes of l‘Olympia, Paris, the Bela Bartok National Concert Hall in Budapest and in his Carnegie Hall solo debut in New York.
Costello last performed a North Yorkshire gig with his band The Imposters at York Barbican in June 2013, when he and his audience used his Spectacular Spinning Songbook device to select the songs from the 50 on the wheel. Elvis and his band, keyboard player Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas among them, had learned as many as 150 songs.
The Detour format surpasses even that total, the solo spotlight giving Elvis freedom to cherry-pick from almost 40 years of caustic Costello songwriting. At last Sunday's show at Birmingham Symphony Hall, attended by this writer, he made a joke early on of having 400 songs to narrow down to a two-hour show.
If the Spinning Songbook set list was random, all the more so for accommodating songs aligned to specific themes on the wheel, Detour finds another way to reflect on Costello's ever-lengthening career, knitting together the more familiar old and harsher later works.
This time it is much more tightly structured, with Elvis as the tour guide through his life's path in music-making. As a consequence, it is a more personal show, peppered with anecdotes, and flavoured with a sense of history established by a chronological run of Costello promo videos down the years, beyond the hits fading out and the videos becoming a little too desperate to make their mark, here screened on a huge retro television.
The show is a family affair too, the support slot given over to his brother Ronan MacManus – same build, same glasses, not dissimilar voice, without the power or the hooks – promoting his band Brand New Zeros' imminent album.
Ronan would later join brother Declan (Elvis's real name) for one of four Costello encores on a night when elder brother switched between myriad electric and acoustic guitars, the piano stool and a blue chair; the sonic palette enhanced further by the abrasive application of echoing, looped guitar effects on a remarkable rendition of Watching The Detectives.
He paid tribute to one of Birmingham's most vaunted sons, Roy Wood, by singing The Move's Blackberry Way, but may find more of a challenge in thinking of a Harrogate songwriter to cover tomorrow. Hang on. Wasn't one of the members of America from the spa town, on his desert-roving horse with no name?
Elvis Costello Detour, Harrogate International Centre, Saturday, 8pm. Tickets update: still available on 01423 502116 or at harrogatetheatre.co.uk