Friday, June 23, 2006


We got back from the show about two hours ago. Julie has gone to bed, but I’m still a bit wired.

I’ve seen Elvis Costello in concert about 6 times now. I’ve seen him with Burt Bacharach and a full orchestra. I’ve seen him a few times with just his keyboard player Steve Nieve. I’ve seen him perform with a jazz orchestra. Each time I have left the venue walking on air, and tonight was no exception.

Elvis performed with R&B legend Allen Toussaint and the Crescent City Horns. The show featured Elvis songs souped up with a nifty horn section, Toussaint songs souped up with Elvis vocals, and songs the two wrote together. The show was at an outdoor venue, with the sun setting in the background. Julie was sitting next to me, and two babies were buried somewhere inside her. The four of us had a grand time.

Some previous shows have been under somewhat less auspicious circumstances. I attended my first Elvis Costello with a woman who just dumped me. This was a curious development, because we weren’t really going out when she dumped me. But I had already invited her to the show, and even lied about how much the tickets cost to avoid making it look like a date. (they were $75 a pop… I told her I got them through a mysterious “industry connection”) Despite this, she was perfect company for the show. As Elvis sung, “God, wipe that girl from my memory,” I felt I could really understand where he was coming from.

Another time, I attended an Elvis Costello show with my boss, who was a film producer. We fought like an old married couple at work. His point was that I was incompetent. My point was that, indeed, I was incompetent, but not nearly as much as he thought. But he had good taste in music, and Elvis was certainly one thing we could agree on.

But for the last several shows, it’s been Julie in the next seat. And that’s been an arrangement that has worked well for me. This time out, she was able to tell me which pretend child liked what song. The lower twin really liked Toussaint’s original work. The upper twin seemed pretty moved by the Latin-twinged version of “Clubland.” Both seemed to like “Working in a Coalmine.”

I’ve got to agree with the twins on all counts. I must admit ignorance of Toussaint’s work previous to this show. But his songs were great, and his arrangements of Elvis’ material were also excellent. And the songs they wrote together would make you believe they had been a songwriting duo for decades.

Costello and Toussaint’s collaboration was borne of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the anger at the government’s bungled response. But despite the biting lyrics of a song like “Broken Promise Land,” the whole evening had a joyous feel to it. I know they’re in the middle of an extensive tour, but after the end of their 2 ½ hour set, the whole band looked like they would have played all night if the zoning laws would allow it.

And speaking of the band, they shouldn’t be overlooked. I had never seen Elvis perform with The Impostors (basically The Attractions with a different, non-back-stabbing bass player) before, but they were ever bit as good as I had been led to believe. My friend Pat told me Pete Thomas is one of the best drummers performing today. After seeing him, I agree. As a matter of fact, he reminded me a lot of Pat, both with his onstage demeanor and mad skills.

But I digress, and that will happen at 2 AM. The point is I saw Elvis tonight and, in some small way, my life is richer for it. Thank you, Elvis.


At 12:07 pm, Blogger Pioneer Woman said...

Have never seen Elvis, but now I want to, but probably won't because I'm in OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOklahoma.

At 12:10 am, Blogger Matthew said...

My sister lives in O-k-l-a-h-o-m-a, Oklahoma. I can't even enter the state without singing that song constantly.

I can be tedious company when that happens.

At 8:15 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wouldn't happen to have the complete setlist, would you? We need it for the Elvis Costello Home Page.


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