Elvis Costello concerts have been a constant arrangement in my lifetime to the continual surprise of friends over the years but have been more faithful than many.

The setting for this latest affair, was the plush Teatro Manzoni of Milan, witness to another wonderful evening with Elvis and his longterm partner Steve Nieve.

Tonight Elvis played a track off nearly every album he's done, testimony to the constant quality he feels to have acheived and the appreciation of his songs by his audience.

The Milan crowd is a very receptive, attentive one, perfect for captureing the essence of despair, lonliness through to new found love that Elvis portrays through his new songs on 'North'. But when you open with 'Accidents' and '45', one knows that it's a journey of magic and bliss.

Steve Nieve plays in his sublime fashion full of verve and pashion to complement Elvis's really powerful renditions of his songs using acoustic and his vocals. He really has become a master crooner adept at using the space around him, working on and off mike, even booming into the bowels of the grand piano.

Highlights for me were a snarling 'Little triggers', 'Shot with his own gun', a first time hearing of 'Home truth' off 'Goodbye Cruel world' which sent shivers. Listening closely it's amazing to note how many songs of love he's written from a woman's perspective like 'Long honeymoon' and indeed in his traditional banter with God's comic he announces 'God' to be a lady.
'Either side of the same town was thrust down our throats, and his blending of 'Deep dark, truthful mirror' and 'You really got a hold on me' was just masterful, playing the crowd to his whim.
Elvis even sang in italian during 'All this useless beauty' and really let rip on electric guitar during 'Watching the detectives' where you could see thay were having fun just playing around with it.

A standing ovation not even a third of the way through the gig of 'This house is empty now' surprised even Elvis I think, much as was my surprise to find him signing albums and autographs in the foyer after the gig. So after my first flirt at the Dominion Theatre in 1978 I finally got to meet the 'man out of time' and thank him with a firm shake of the hand, a cheeky grin on his face betraying the pleasure of being engulfed by a happy group of people.
Elvis Costello ......... top geezer!