Elvis Costello, you sexy beast. Age, genre and the State Theatre on a Wednesday has done nothing to diminish your loveliness. Supported by local singer-songwriter-still bitter ex-girlfriend Thelma Plum (sweet acoustic folkie with potential to really shine), Costello took the stage a little early and at times seemed determined to not even slow down between tunes. For two-and-a-bit hours he cut a fine figure in a pinstripe suit, mustard socks and hatband, flitting between genres and eras like a live 'best of' mix.
His three-piece backers The Imposters kept up in style, though when recent tunes from Costello's album with The Roots, Wise Up Ghost, made their way out, there was an inevitable need to reconsider rather than try to recreate the epic Philadelphia hip hop sound. Of these the exquisite "Cinco Minutos Con Vos" was most transformed to simply "Five More Minutes With You," as Costello took it solo rather than as the album version, Spanish Duet, with the band stripped back to a two-chord driving minimum to provide a drive that wasn't the same, but was still achingly glorious. No one else does longing with the right mix of dignity and gentle lust.
"Walk Us Uptown" also slow burned, but they sat easily next to the timeless awesome of "Brilliant Mistake," "Oliver's Army," "What's So Funny About Peace, Love And Understanding" and "Alison," and in between Costello did occasionally pause to tell gentle stories about supporting his dad onstage in Blackpool, mini introductions to a small semi-gospel set and, of course, to beckon the crowd to their feet ("Why wait to the end?" he asked as we flocked, security glaring, to the aisles and down the front from ten minutes into the gig). A good chunk of the encore was dedicated to the late Jesse Winchester, paying tribute to someone with "a great economy of music and lyrics," Costello playing "Quiet About It" slowly, gently. Elvis, come back soon.