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Pete Lawrence - 10 May 2016
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Fast forward at least two decades and the man's canon is on display, stripped down and laid bare, strutting on with a fierce rendition of 'Lipstick Vogue', electric guitar splaying in all directions in the dark.

I hadn't seen Elvis since the 80s, as far as I could recall. Perhaps the tail end of the 80s when he headlined at Glastonbury with The Attractions and he was beginning to lose me with dense albums like 'Blood and Chocolate'. I'd been a big fan for the first decade, since the clarion call of 'Less Than Zero' and 'Alison' hinted at a new direction for the mid 70s pub-rock dominated London sound. There was a harder edge at work and Elvis would be at its vanguard.

Fast forward at least two decades and the man's canon is on display, stripped down and laid bare, strutting on with a fierce rendition of 'Lipstick Vogue', electric guitar splaying in all directions in the dark. His elaborate screen set had already offered us a preview of the man via a selection of his best-remembered videos and now it's on photo display mode, giving us a historical snapshot walkthrough of his childhood and youth as well as several family photos. The man is in his element, telling low-key but congenial stories. with simple accompaniment from one of his plethora of guitars or at the grand piano. For the end section of the show he is joined by support act Larkin Poe for some sprightly hoedowns. 

'Love Field' from 'Goodbye Cruel World' is an example of a song that sparkles in its minimalist form, timeless and simple. And then there's a very different 'I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down', delivered gospel style on the grand. Earlier he'd played a moving piano version of his magnum opus 'Shipbuilding', an almost throwaway 'Oliver's Army' and other favourites such as 'Accidents Will Happen' as well as unlikely covers such as Aznavour's 'She' as featured on 'In Motion Pictures'. Tributes to collaborators and icons who have passed on recently, Dan Hicks and Allen Toussaint segues into a touching tribute to Specials' departed drummer John Bradbury as Costello re-interprets the closing track of The Specials debut album 'You're Wondering Now' which he produced .. it's a poignant and moving local touch for the Coventry audience.

Then the vintage TV set opens up and he's on a different stage with different guitar and amps, singing 'Alison'. We sense it's the end, Costello shambles off and the screen plays his father's version of 'If I Had a Hammer' with the Joe Loss Orchestra, the crowd claps along and then he's back for another half hour at least, treating us to 'Good Year For The Roses' 'Watching The Detectives', 'Pump It Up' and much more. The crowd are loving this show now, which increases in intensity as it goes on. Just time for two more encores and we're over time, exiting as the screen plays 'We're Forever Blowing Bubbles' on the last day West Ham are in their famous Upton Park stadium. 

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