Some groups can't play live without taped backing. But for Elvis Costello, using a tape means starting his Saturday show with an extract from the royal Mills and Boon, Princess In Love.
Coming on last, behind his re-grouped Attractions, arms aloft and grinning, he launched into "Green Shirt," no doubt a dig at ex-Army boy James Hewitt.
It was to be the only moment of subversion from the former angry young man.
Elvis and '94 Attractions are more Puck than punk, more style than bile.
Costello the chameleon has done it all: solo, acoustic, mock-Motown, gameshow entertainer, weird beard. This year's model has entered his venerable Van Morrison phase, belting out perfunctory versions of many hits and adding a showman flourish to others.
"It's taken us quite a while to get here: 17 years," he said, sounding ominously hoarse.
In fact, the sound mix was so abominable, it could have been a gig from 17 years ago.
Costello's Attractions paraded their still brilliant skills, particularly on new tracks like "Clown Strike" and "Rocking Horse Road."
But where were the alternative takes on the classics, or the unexpected cover versions?
Elvis lives... on past glories.