Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Elvis Costello and the Imposters @ 9:30
You never know which Elvis is going to show up. Will it be the Angry Young Man? Will it be the guy crooning Burt Bacharach tunes? The jazzy Elvis? Elvis' career is so varied, it's wise to do a little investigating before buying tickets. You never know what you're going to end up with.
I guess since he just re-released all of his early discs (for about the 4th time - this time sans bonus tracks) and released his 23rd and 24th "Best of..." discs simultaneously, we got the little-bit-of-everything-Elvis, with an emphasis on the really early stuff - which is really about the best thing possible.
He came right out of the box with "Welcome To The Working Week" and never let up. A little over 2 hours later the jam-packed crowd was still cheering. He played a perfect mix of hits and deeper tracks. Enough to keep the "Best of..." crowd happy, while still pleasing the folks who want the deeper cuts. I guess I fall somewhere in between.
The hits all sounded great - "Radio Radio", "Pump It Up", "Clubland", "Watching The Detectives".... He did something to the beginning of "Beyond Belief" that made it hard to recognize at first, but it sounded great. One of the highlights for me was probably "Alibi" from the terribly underrated When I Was Cruel record. This version came off as a little extra slinky and creepy, going on for quite a while. Chills. I was also loving "Country Darkness" - a beautiful song I'm completely unfamiliar with. My friend tells me it's from The Delivery Man - one of his most recent records. I definitely need to check that out.
We were even treated to a guest appearance by New Orleans jazz pianist Allen Toussaint, who played on a few songs - even singing one himself. Nice.
The true highlight of the evening, of course, was Elvis by himself, on acoustic guitar, singing "Alison". After the first verse became a giant sing-a-long, he started screwing with the cadence and melody - which threw off the crowd a bit. Come on people - You've got Elvis Costello in a nightclub, solo, acoustic, singing "Alison". Just try to listen for 4 minutes. The song was fantastic though. Definitely one of those musical moments you're going to remember for a long time. Perfect.
What didn't I like...? Well, I hate to say it, but it was almost too long. Sold-out 9:30 shows can be unbearably crowded. You can't even bend your knees without hitting 2-3 people. After 2+ hours of standing nearly perfectly still, it was getting a bit tiresome. Yeah - I know - Stop whining. And I'd like to say that Toussaint was a highlight, but to be honest, I couldn't really hear him. I couldn't hear what he was doing, so he didn't really seem to add much. It struck me as a special moment, but it was probably more special for Elvis, himself, than for most of the crowd.
He closed the show with Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding", complete with a call/response with the crowd about bringing the boys home. Without actually talking much, Elvis did a pretty good job of letting us know what he thought about the war.
Elvis is the king. I've only seen him once before - nearly 20 years ago. I won't make the mistake of waiting that long again. It was incredibly exciting to see him in a nightclub. I never expected to see that. Dinger's theory is that everyone plays 9:30 eventually. He's probably right. He usually is.
TJ likes setlists. You can find that here.