Elvis Costello, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill

The Argus: Robert Sayce: 18th July 2014

Just over a month away from his 60th birthday, Elvis Costello shows no signs of losing his touch.

Though dialling back on touring to spend time with family, the inimitable singer-songwriter and new wave icon found room in his schedule to visit the seaside.

One of a string of rare solo appearances, this was an unpretentious, stripped-down affair. Without visual gimmicks or keyboard-toting wingmen to back him up, Costello drew upon his astonishing catalogue of classics. The results were electrifying.

From an amped up, jammed out rendition of Watching The Detectives to the melancholy charm of new number The Last Year Of My Youth, his set was impressively wide-ranging. He peppered the two and a bit hour performance with one-liners and anecdotes, many reflecting upon the stories behind his finest songs.

Shipbuilding felt as poignant as ever, while signature cuts Oliver’s Army and (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love And Understanding got the audience out of their seats and dancing in the aisles. Whether reflective or defiant, the emotive power of Costello’s songwriting shone through.

He may be an angry young man no longer, but Elvis Costello can still surprise and excite with the best of them.