Which is a problem as tonight the 47-year-old is showcasing some sassy and passionate romantic ballads, mainly from the 1920s and 1930s, in a performance that recalls the time of speakeasies, Ziegfeld follies and flapper dresses.
Most of the tracks are from , a new T-Bone Burnett-produced album where Mrs Elvis Costello appears on the cover leaning back in a basque, stockings and suspenders. Her generous show begins on a back projection with Steve Buscemi - who excels as gangster Nucky Thompson in - murdering "When the Curtain Comes Down".
But, in true showbiz style, Elvis had not left the building.
As a finale, Costello and Krall performed the 1981 Costello hit Almost Blue, followed by a duet of Dylan’s Wallflower.
Costello was up first, wowing the crowds with acoustic versions of his extensive back catalogue dating to his heyday as an angry young man of 1970s punk.
The 59-year-old maestro churned out the hits – starting with a pared-down version of his 1977 (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes and blending into the 1979 crowd-pleaser Accidents Will Happen.“I don’t know which songs to play, so I’m just going to play them all,” Costello told the crowd before launching into Veronica, a tune he wrote with Paul Mc Cartney in 1989, and then a stunning rendition of his 1981 classic Good Year for the Roses.“I’d like to introduce you to my special guest – it’s me,” Costello joked, referring to the fact that his set consisted of just him and four guitars.
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From there it was a cover of the 1930s jazz standard Walkin' My Baby Back Home, a song he said he likes to sing when far away from home, and then his own 1999 song She.Next up, Krall’s set, with Steinway piano and a talented jazz-backing band, was no less lacking in hits.Starting with the 1964 bossa nova Summer Samba and then the 1933 classic Let’s Fall in Love, Krall and her band showed the Dubai crowd that they could get the party going just as much as hubby.However, too often her renditions have a monotone feel, they're suffocating even; she never appears to totally let rip.She's moderately raucous on "Lonely Avenue" and boisterous-ish on Nat King Cole's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", but she fails to replicate Marilyn Monroe's effortless perkiness on "Running Wild" (from ) and cannot match Betty James's robust raunchiness on "I'm a Little Mixed Up".
Although lacking a backing band, Costello brought along a handful of effects pedals, which he used to create loops, setting up a wall of noise over which he sang his 1977 reggae song Watching the Detectives – complete with his own police loud speaker with his name on it.