SINGING superstar Elvis Costello played an astonishing set of acoustic music in Southampton.

The legendary songwriter performed more than two hours of greatest hits and other tunes at The Guildhall as part of his nationwide 21-date Detour tour.

After casually walking on he stood in front of a fantastically designed set that was dominated by a 1960s style giant television.

His piano was on the left and he was surrounded by at least five different guitars which were picked up one after each other.

Standing alone on the giant stage and wearing a purple suit, black buttoned up shirt and a bright white boater hat, Costello began with his 1977 song Red Shoes from his outstanding debut album My Aim is True.

The seated audience was immediately enthralled and it wasn’t long before Accidents will Happen thrilled his loyal fans even more.

But it was an almost unbelievable performance of Costello’s biggest chart song Oliver’s Army that really saw things get going.

The 1979 number two hit, which usually has a considerable piano accompaniment, was sung with just an acoustic guitar and at an even greater pace than usual. It was a memorable moment.

Things briefly slowed down with the brilliant Ship Building, which was written in the middle of the Falklands War.

That tune was the first of many that brought the captivated crowd to their feet. Watching the Detectives and Alison were two more.

In a moving interlude Costello reminded fans of his music heritage and his mother Lilian and father Ross MacManus, who sang with the Joe Loss orchestra.

The singer showed a film of the famous big band and his dad singing and dancing to the Sixties hit I’ve Got a Hammer. The ensemble did that song at the 1963 Royal Variety Performance.

Costello sat down to sing his spellbinding 1999 cover of the Charles Aznavour hit She.

Apart from the bright spotlights on the headliner the Guildhall lighting was unusually modest. The only glimmers of light across the imposing four walls were the reflections from Costello’s guitar.

The West London singer, who now resides in New York, is a super all round entertainer.

His stories about his upbringing and ducking and diving through forty years in the music industry were often hilarious and heart-warming.

He revealed his Grandfather had strong links with Southampton after working for the White Star line.

With his great story telling and music it is no wonder Costello was the artist who appeared most often on The Late Show with David Letterman which ended last month. He even hosted an episode and did the famous nightly monologue.

For the final part of the show Costello was joined by singing Atlanta sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell who perform as Larkin Poe.

They provided terrific vocal and guitar accompaniment on a medley of country-rock songs.

The talented girls also have their own UK tour including a date at the 100 Club in London on July 1. The encore saw an astounding performance of Pump it Up, Good Year for the Roses and a resounding rendition of Peace, Love and Understanding.

Finally, Costello was back alone at the Piano for a soulful performance of Nick Lowe’s I Can’t Stand up for Fall Down.

Then with a long standing ovation the show was over. Elvis had left the building again nearly forty years since he first played The Gaumont in Southampton.

The good news is that one of Britain’s greatest singer-songwriters returns to the South to play The Anvil, Basingstoke on Friday June 26.