St David's Hall, Cardiff: Dynamic and Masterful

Kate Clarke: This being a solo tour I was half expecting Costello to lean on his gentler bluegrass numbers, but he has so many in built effects and settings on his voice he has no problem summoning up the drama and dynamics needed for his all-angels-and-edges rock, even without a band. So we got it all. An immense version of Watching The Detectives, was the theatrical centre-piece of the night Using guitar chord loops, and fuzz and tremolo effects to underline the song's dramatic lines and to crank up the tension, he led up to a controlled madness, Marc Ribot-style solo, which summoned up 60's cop programmes expertly. We got Costello in the guise of the faded Vaudevillian too, with a clutch of gently strummed and whistled, mournful character studies. Several encores gifted us a foray into the Great American Songbook which he handles so deftly, with All Or Nothing At All, and the night came to a close with a delicate and subtle song which imagined the last dreams of Jean Charles De Menezes - imagery of Portuguese love songs, the rush of warm air that fills underground trains at their stops, and lone birds singing made for affecting stuff. Pretty Masterful.