July 1, 2010 – 10:55 am

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Birmingham 2010 [no label, 2CD]

Live at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK, June 21, 2010. Very good audience recording.

When Billy Bragg performed alone with his guitar all those years ago, no one called it “unplugged” then and this is probably as close to an “Unplugged” session for Elvis Costello as one can possibly get. As an internet report stated: “There was just Costello on stage – along with stands holding six guitars, which he frequently changed as he ran through his songs.”

If Costello had done a similar set in the ’70s, the venom in the performance might have been more potent but he did add to the vitriol an earnest performance that showed what a fine performer he still is.

If Everyday I Write The Book sounded like it would have been a good idea for the Housemartins, it is Jackie Wilson Said which Costello deftly used to rouse up the crowd [the song had a similar effect with the audience the night before at Meltdown’s Royal Festival Hall] though it must be said that, by that portion of the gig, Watching The Detectives already had the crowd nicely tapping along.

This is what verbal gymnastics posted at

Elvis really knows how to gauge the audience. There was one long encore which was simply building on the relationship and keeping the momentum going. He had a couple of sound problems and earlier, after Detectives (which had seen some “unusual” loops) he caught my eye and raised his eyebrows. There was some buzzing I think which the sound engineers were trying to get to the bottom of after.

He was in a jovial mood and it took a little bit of time to get going. In fact it was only after Radio Sweetheart that the crowd came to life. I Hope You’re Happy Now was a beautiful soft reading and the new song, Hope, was also very soft. King of Confidence (last played November 28, 1986) was a fantastic treat…

One of the beauties of Elvis is that the printed setlist bears little resemblance to what he actually plays. We got High Fidelity and then he was standing thinking of what to play and then did a “Ooh I know what I’ll play” and decided to play Man Out Of Time. After he played Peace, Love and Understanding he said he’d got time for one more song and ended on a new song. Having said that, we saw One Bell Ringing a year ago.

My Three Sons was played as a response to someone shouting out “My Three Sons Declan” (not that I think Elvis minds playing that one). Someone else shouted out for Just A Memory and Elvis said “he’d have to come back on that one”. We were lucky to get so many new songs.

As Costello explained to Kate Clarke of the South Wales Evening Post about the joys of working solo: “I probably have the greatest freedom to sing songs from every year and for every occasion, even numbers I’ve overlooked or just occur to me in the moment or are tunes yet to be heard on record… Time changes them [the songs] in interesting ways and playing solo takes them out of any routine or ritual and gives them back to you like a prize.”

Thanks to funkygibbon who recorded the show and shared the lossless tracks on Dime. Thanks also to  Colinb9 for the artwork. As funkygibbon commented: “if i do say so myself, this recording is bloody tops, couple of sounds off from a guy taking pics but hey, it’s his gig too.”

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Disc 1
Track 01. 45 (5.6MB)
Track 02. Either Side Of The Same Town (6.5MB)
Track 03. Veronica (6.3MB)
Track 04. Down Among The Wines And Spirits (5.0MB)
Track 05. I Hope You’re Happy Now (4.9MB)
Track 06. Condemned Man (5.8MB)
Track 07. Good Year For The Roses (5.6MB)
Track 08. Everyday I Write The Book (6.5MB)
Track 09. Bedlam (8.3MB)
Track 10. All Or Nothing At All (4.9MB)
Track 11. Slow Drag With Josephine (7.1MB)
Track 12. Jimmie Standing In The Rain (6.3MB)
Track 13. Watching The Detectives (10.5MB)
Track 14. Radio Sweetheart / Jackie Wilson Said (7.4MB)
Track 15. God’s Comic (9.4MB)
Track 16. Hope (6.3MB)

Disc 2
Track 17. My Three Sons (7.2MB)
Track 18. Sulphur To Sugarcane (6.7MB)
Track 19. Alison (6.1MB)
Track 20. The Spell That You Cast (4.7MB)
Track 21. Shipbuilding (6.3MB)
Track 22. Bullets For The New-Born King (5.6MB)
Track 23. High Fidelity (4.5MB)
Track 24. Man Out Of Time (6.9MB)
Track 25. King Of Confidence (3.7MB)
Track 26. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding? (4.4MB)
Track 27. One Bell Ringing (7.6MB)

Click on the link to order Elvis Costello albums.


  2. What a wonderful show.

    I’m very hungry for more Elvis Costello, especially from the Imperial Bedroom years.

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll listen to this over and over.

    By JKS on Jul 2, 2010

  3. Indeed — looking for more studio stuff. But this is great!

    By wardo on Jul 2, 2010

  4. Great-sounding set with Elvis! More please!!

    By Hulkzilla on Jul 2, 2010

  5. Thought I would like this more. Worth hearing, but it’s not a show I’d care to revisit. Thanks nevertheless for the post.

    By Dave C. on Jul 2, 2010

  6. What a wealth of great stuff is coming up around here … I got this one elsewhere, I have to admit and it is very good - no, Elvis Costello is very good. Full stop. Thanks for all the other downloads, too. Cheers.

    By Canute on Jul 2, 2010

  7. a very inspired reading of the Costello songbook.
    Thank you!

    By tony lauber on Jul 4, 2010

  8. Really great recording. I was at the show at this makes it permanent! Big Costello fan looking for more!

    By bluzco on Jul 25, 2010

  9. Thanks for this great show. Please share more Costello especially studio stuff.

    By Matt on Sep 3, 2010

  10. The download link doen(t work for tracks 02 04 08 12 14 18 23 & 24. Too bad

    By mrbelette on Nov 24, 2016

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