Native Monster: Kirsten Rawlins: 1st June 2015
Standing on stage before a huge retro-style TV in a blue suit and white hat, Elvis Costello looked as wonderfully quirky as ever - and sounded sublime.
The London-born punk and rock idol wowed fans with his one-man spectacular at the Symphony Hall last night as he played a huge selection of his catalogue of hits - all without a band or backing vocals.
And, though the star has now reached 60, he still looked the same and sounded every bit as great as he ever did.
Alternating between playing a selection of seven guitars and a piano, Elvis impressed Birmingham crowds with his strong and wide-ranging vocals and superb musical skills - shown especially well with his excellent renditions of Ascension Day on guitar and Shipbuilding on piano.
And not only is Costello extremely talented - but entertaining and witty too, making humorous references to Birmingham and stories of his family and past.
"Welcome to the second night of the tour! I thought being as I was in Birmingham - the city of love - I would sing songs about romance, love and fidelity.
"But I quickly realised it would end up being a very short show indeed. So I decided to play this instead.." he said, before launching into 1979 number 'Accidents Will Happen' - provoking more laughter from the crowd.
There were more than a few moments when Costello excelled last night - but his powerful rendition of Oliver's Army and Pump it Up were by far among the most impressive.
Pump it Up - by Elvis Costello and The Attractions - was initially intended for a band of four, but Elvis played the 1978 hit alone with ease; making impressive use of a loop system which enabled him to play and layer sounds and recreate the music as it was intended.
As an extra treat for his avid fans , Elvis brought his brother Ronan McManus on tour with him. And, not only did Ronan provide support for the evening's show, but also joined Elvis for a number of brilliant performances - including a stunning, toe tapping rendition of Oliver's Army, which saw Costello's vocals simply soar; his tremendously strong voice filling the auditorium.
And the crowd loved it; singing, cheering and whistling along to every tune, and giving standing ovations after almost every other performance. There's certainly no doubt he deserved it.