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.

Elvis Costello & The Imposters @ Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow

The stage in the Clyde Auditorium looked much like the set for a retro television game show with the giant, flashing Spinning Songbook looming at the rear, behind a more traditional musical ensemble of guitars, drums, keyboards and, erm, a go-go cage.

Host of this spectacular “showbiz marvel” wasn’t Bruce Forsyth or Noel Edmonds, but rather Elvis Costello – or MC Napoleon Dynamite, as he referred to himself when he donned a black top hat and took hold of a cane as his glamorous assistant plucked a delirious female from the audience to perform the first spin of the evening four songs in.

After a breathless opening spell in which Elvis and his impressive band stormed through Hope You’re Happy Now, Heart of the City, Mystery Dance and Radio, Radio whilst a young lady utilised the go-go cage for dancing in true vaudeville fashion, the Spectacular Spinning Songbook was brought into action.  Much like you might expect to find on Wheel of Fortune the prizes on offer here were rich and varied:  the likes of Oliver’s Army, Good Year For The Roses, Shipbuilding, I Want You, Man Out Of Time, I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea and New Lace Sleeves were amongst a host of songs available, as well as “all the others you probably haven’t heard of.”

One of the most touching moments of the near three-hour set was when Elvis welcomed his brother Ronan MacManus and his band Bible Code Sunday’s on to the stage prior to American Without Tears.  A fine family collaboration followed before we returned to the Spinning Songbook and the introduction of some more contestants in search of the happy jackpot.

The show went from the touching to an almost vitriolic tone as Costello told us that he realised he was getting old “when the Chancellor of the Exchequer looks like Noddy,” questioning the twit’s credentials to run the economy before continuing an anti-Rupert Murdoch theme as he led in to the outstanding Tramp The Dirt Down – the stinging attack on Margaret Thatcher which naturally brought rapturous applause from a Glasgow audience.

After performing a solo intermission, complete with ukulele, the band returned to the stage for a finale which transformed the all-seated Clyde Auditorium into a standing venue as hits like Oliver’s Army, Pump It Up, (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding and Watching The Detectives brought the marathon set to a rousing conclusion.

The Revolver Tour had everything in its entertaining three-hour set.  Elvis Costello is a smart and funny man whose humour was as sharp as his songwriting is brilliant.  The Imposters are a hugely talented band and the vaudeville, cabaret-like format worked wonderfully.

If the Spectacular Spinning Songbook was indeed a game show you feel that the audience weren’t going away with the keys to a Mercedes or a holiday; they won something much better:  a night in the company of a legendary performer.