Elvis Costello wows the Colston Hall

Bristol Post: Mark Taylor: 22nd June 2015.

After more than 40 years of recording, Elvis Costello is not short of material, but even this sprawling set would have surprised his most ardent followers, many of whom probably weren’t expecting to miss the last bus home or pay their babysitters overtime as the clock approached 11pm.

Costello played without a break for just over two hours, performing over 30 career-spanning songs with the vigour of musicians a third of his 60 years.

Now resident in New York, this was an increasingly rare UK show from the Merseyside singer-songwriter and it was the first outing for his new Detour tour.

An intimate, acoustic show covering four decades of hits, as well as few covers, Costello performed solo for much of the evening amidst an innovative set design that resembled a 1950s living room complete with standard lamp and piano.

The main focal point of the stage was a giant retro television set that showed old Costello videos and carefully curated images with a Bristol link, including WG Grace, Tony Benn, Russ Conway and even Wallace and Gromit.

There was also footage of his dad, Ross MacManus, who was a dance band singer with the Joe Loss orchestra in the 1960s - a fitting tribute for this Father’s Day performance.

Switching between six battered but cherished guitars, Costello ripped through the first half of the evening, covering many of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s hits including Accidents Will Happen, Watching The Detectives and Everyday I Write The Book.

He moved to the baby grand for an emotive, chilling version of his classic Falklands War protest song Shipbuilding and a slowed-down piano rendition of I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down. He even slipped in his late 1990s cover of Charles Aznavour’s She and the ‘50s singalong standard Walkin’ My Baby Back Home.

The three encores were longer than the main set, starting with five songs performed with American country duo Larkin Poe, who had opened the evening with their own highly enjoyable set.

Sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell contributed some sweet country harmonies and steel guitar on Nothing Clings Like Ivy, That’s Not The Part of Him You’re Leaving and the Bob Dylan-penned Down on The Bottom.

Re-emerging inside the giant retro TV with his electric guitar, Costello then rocketed through his best-known songs - Oliver’s Army, Alison, Pump It Up and - again joined by Larkin Poe - A Good Year For The Roses and (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.

Still looking like he could play for a few more hours, Costello finally left the stage to a standing ovation that was thoroughly deserved for a performance that reaffirmed him as one of the truly great troubadours of our time.