Elvis Costello @ Usher Hall, Edinburgh

With only six guitars and a piano for support and wearing an outfit not too dissimilar from a wise guy in the prohibition-era series Boardwalk Empire, Elvis Costello’s generation hopping journey through his sprawling back catalogue was as intimate an affair as you can get in a sold out hall of over 2,000 people.

A two-and-a-half hour setlist which covered everything from Veronica to Oliver’s Army and Watching The Detectives to his most recent song, The Last Year of My Youth, was punctuated with humour and reminiscence, as Costello explored the working class roots and styles behind his own brand of music.  He fashioned us with personal stories of playing his first gig with his orchestra singer father and of his grandfather’s life as a musician on the vast cruise ships of the twenties – “the Olympic, the Majestic, basically all the ic’s” – before the Great Depression struck.

Sitting two rows from one of the true greats of British music was an incredible experience; a real joy watching the versatility of his craft as he went from acoustic guitar to piano and back again, even introducing an electric guitar in the second encore where (What’s so Funny ‘bout) Peace, Love and Understanding brought the entire hall to its feet.


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