It was good to see Elvis Costello in such fine form last night at the Philharmonic Hall. Those in the audience hoping to see him deliver the sort of set he usually delivers with his backing band The Imposters were in for a surprise. The pre-concert tape of Steve Earle at his most rustic hinted at what was to come.
Backed by the Nashville-based Sugarcanes, Costello deftly mixed old & new, throwing in a couple of covers also. Mixing New Amsterdam with Hey, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away (Costello told the audience he'd supported "Mr McCartney" the previous day in Hyde Park) wasn't unexpected. However, the style certainly was. Indeed, most of his older material benefitted from the six-piece Sugarcanes' backing, the guitars, fiddle, dobro, mandolin, double bass & accordion drawing out extra layers from familiar material. This was at its most startling on the one song Costello professes to dislike from his back catalogue, Everyday I Write The Book.
It seems invidious to single out any member of the Sugarcanes for specific attention, they were all impressively tight. However, Jerry Douglas on dobro was, at times, mesmeric, particularly on Shipbuilding.
Compared to previous Costello shows in what he calls "the nearest thing I have to a home town", last night's performance was light on banter. However, I did enjoy his quip, "Wayne Rooney? More like Mickey Rooney."
All in all, an excellent evening, & no-one called out for Oliver's Army or Pump It Up. Perfect.