Chicago report

Pretty self-explanatory
johnfoyle
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Chicago report

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Mar 17, 2004 3:45 am

: "Mark writes -

To: COSTELLO-L@LISTSERV.AOL.COM



Just home from the show. Wow, this was a complex
evening -- not easy to consume. Maybe it was the venue
(large, old, ornate theater), maybe it was the setlist
(heavy on the quiet stuff), or maybe it was the
heckler who called Elvis a "faggot" and an "asshole"
before getting kicked out, but I don't think we all
(Elvis and us) really "clicked" tonight. I can't
imagine that many casual fans were too happy with the
show -- not a whole lot of easy crowd-pleasers,
although Inch by Inch and a few others were special.

The final (?) encore was particularly daunting -- I
think we were all primed to get up and dance a bit,
but instead he played FIVE (by my count) consecutive
brand-new songs. At that point i think it was kinda
hard for some folks to take, but for me this is where
the evening really went into high gear. I had moved
down from my crappy seat (row X) and amazingly found
this aisle seat in 6th row, right behind this vast
open area for wheelchairs. I stuck my legs out, and
it was like having Elvis playing in my living room!
Very sweet. And he really seemed to be enjoying this
part of the show, putting the new stuff out there. He
played a good deal of piano, which was fun to see.

In the end, I left the theater tantalized and awed, as
usual, by Elvis. But as much as I love him and Steve
and every shred of music they performed, I'm still
antsy for the next Imposters tour.

Hope someone was taking notes and has a setlist.

- Mark

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rosy writes -
Subject: Chicago set list
To: COSTELLO-L@LISTSERV.AOL.COM


Here's the setlist (98% sure on this). Pen picked a fine time to start
running
out of ink.
45
I Hope You're Happy Now (very slow, different sounding, with organ (?)
backing)
Talking in the Dark
Shot With His Own Gun
This House is Empty Now
You Left Me in the Dark
Someone Took the Words Away
Home Truth
Motel Matches
Veronica (this is where the moron insulted him--Elvis called him a
motherf***er)
You Turned to Me
Fallen
God's Comic
PLU
-----------
Alibi Factory
Black Sails in the Sunset (yes!)
Suit of Lights
All the Rage
---------------
When it Sings
Still
Inch by Inch/Fever
Watching the Detectives
----------------
Delivery Man (lyrics partially from the 99 Nashville text---Abel was
able...etc)
Country Darkness (WOW--loved the music on this one)
Monkey to Man
Needle Time
Either Side of the Same Town
----------------
Almost Blue
Let Me Tell You About Her (EC alone at the piano)
Nothing Clings Like Ivy (EC alone again) Beautiful song!! Fits in with
other D
Man songs
Scarlet Tide (ukulele)
Pump it Up (Gibson Super 400)
Dark End of the Street (Gibson)

Songs on the set list that he didn't play were For the Stars, I Want to
Vanish,
No Wonder, So Like Candy, Shipbuilding, Man Out of TIme, Can You Be
True, DDTM,
Heart Shaped Bruise, Unwanted Number, I'm in the Mood Again.
Seemed like the loudmouth moron changed EC's mood for a couple songs,
but then
he got back into it. Much of Dark End of the Street was off
mic--lovely!
Beautiful theater--smaller than the Chicago, and his unamped voice
filled it
well. Great seats still available until showtime--I upgraded this
afternoon
before the show. No end-of-tour discounts on merch.

cbartal
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Postby cbartal » Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:13 am

I walked out of the show after his 10 minute tirade on the Bush administration, Cheney in particular.

I have nothing against artists having or voicing their opinions, but his cheeky little comments contained nothing substantive, all just Howard Stern like insults.

I have seen Elvis Costello for probably the fortieth, and definitely the last time. Nor will I buy any more of his albums. I know you'll all say it is my loss, and maybe it is.

But we are in serious times, and there are valid arguments on both sides of the aisle, so to speak. For Costello to be soooooo hostile and one sided really exposes a sickening narrow minded side of himself. His comments seemed as immature and ill-placed to me as those of the idiot calling him and asshole and a faggot.

Anyway, I have really valued my 25 years or so as a Costello fan. He taught me alot and gave me years and years of wonderful music. And some of my most memorable concert experiences ever.

But the things he said last night were so hurtful to me, my parents, and most everything I stand for. I know I'm a good person so I can brush it off, but it still hurts alot.

I really enjoyed talking with everyone on the board and I wish you all well.

Signing off,

Craig Bartal

johnfoyle
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Postby johnfoyle » Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:32 am

Mark writes -

To: COSTELLO-L@LISTSERV.AOL.COM


One little bit missing from the set list -- there was
that great interlude between Almost Blue and Let Me
Tell You... where Elvis sat and played piano, and
Steve sat next to him and played harmonica -- that was
really beautiful, seemingly impromptu. Has he done
this elsewhere on the tour?

A few more thoughts, in the light of day:

(this is probably giving the jerkoff heckler much more
airspace than he deserves)...my recollection is that
the guy was pointedly heckling the North songs, not
Veronica. Right after "Someone Took..." when Elvis was
introducing next song, the guy called out "Elvis,
you're a faggot," and Elvis said "Yes, but I'm talking
now" and moved on. Then, I believe it was after
Veronica and during intro to You Turned to Me -- "This
next song's a love song..." the guy yelled "You're an
asshole Elvis!" EC said something like "C'mon
motherfucker" took a few steps in his direction, and
motioned with both hands in the c'mon-let's-rumble
gesture. He was genuinely pissed (in the American
sense), not joking around. Security got the guy out of
the theater, but Elvis couldn't see that, and Elvis
said something to the effect of "What the fuck else
you got to say?" and there was a pause and everyone
started yelling that he was gone. LAter, Elvis had a
well-timed line after someone yelled "We love you" --
he says: "Yes, and I love you too...individually and
as a group...with a few exceptions." Probably not a
new one but well delivered.

I think my frustration with the show was this tension
of mixing the "slow stuff" with rock songs. The way
he delivered PLU, for instance, he seemed to want us
on our feet, but by this time the audience was in this
strange place of being conditioned that this was not
that kind of concert. This friction was at work in a
few places -- maybe it was good...made people listen
to new interpretations of old songs, rather than just
reacting by habit. For instance, I loved what
happened with Pump It Up after first verse --
definitely worked against the fist-pumping
participation the song usually gets. However, I
wasn't too fond of Watching the Detectives
arrangement.

If I can ramble a bit more...the songs from North were
absolutely WONDERFUL in concert. Better than on disc,
and better than seeing them on TV. I was never a
North-naysayer, but still, the whole collection shot
up in my estimation last night.

And that whole set of new songs was impressive in
their immediate acccessibility -- to me, at least.
I'm usually really grumpy about hearing new stuff for
the first time in concert, but I was connecting with
every one of 'em.

And finally, I loved the shots he took at Chicago and
his Taste of Chicago experience last summer (several
references to "beans"). And he inserted a very funny
bit in the God's Comic narrative, something about how
heaven is going to be like the gift basket he received
from "your mayor" after his last appearance here..."a
mug...and a baseball cap" -- probably doesn't
translate well here, but he was SO dry in delivery.

- Mark

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Postby johnfoyle » Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:46 am

What is it about Chicago and Elvis?

In 2002 he badmouthed the concert`s MC ; the poor chap had spoken over some Derek Bell music ( the Chieftains musician and Costello friend had died the day before) AND introduced The Imposters as The Attractions. The MC , a local DJ , expressed his `hurt` in quite a few interviews after that. This year he gets a particularly persistent heckler and lets rip again. And looses a long-time fan.

The common element is that they were both at the end of tours - I guess it can be an emotional time for all concerned.

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Postby BlueChair » Wed Mar 17, 2004 11:57 am

cbartal wrote:But the things he said last night were so hurtful to me, my parents, and most everything I stand for. I know I'm a good person so I can brush it off, but it still hurts alot.


How so?
This morning you've got time for a hot, home-cooked breakfast! Delicious and piping hot in only 3 microwave minutes.

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Postby WhipsnSpurs » Wed Mar 17, 2004 12:10 pm

Wow, some interesting posts. I got the feeling seeing him in San Francsico on 3/11 that he was getting tired. His voice was a bit shaky, especially on the first few songs. He gave a great performance, but I could definitely see the difference between his presence at UCLA (3/4) and SF (3/11).

He did a lot of concerts right on top of each other, and a lot of travelling, crisscrossing the country, and that has to take a toll after a while. Especially in the format he chose, where he was the main focus the entire 2 1/2 hours -- sometimes it's nice to step back and let the band carry the sound for a bit --

You have to give the guy credit. He's 50 soon and that was a gruelling schedule and concert set that he performed. Thanks EC. Lots of us enjoyed it thoroughly.

My husband kidded me relentlessly about going to the UCLA concert AND the SF concert, but looking back, UCLA was better and I'm so glad I went (husband only went to SF - took a more appreciative friend with me to UCLA!)

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Postby BlueChair » Wed Mar 17, 2004 12:12 pm

The Toronto show just the other night was the best Elvis show I've seen, so I dunno.

As for his tirade against the Bush administration, I think the horrors and bigotry (particularly towards homosexuals) that have gone on have given the right to anyone, including performers to speak their mind. It's not like anything he was saying was as nearly as harsh as telling homosexual people that they are committing sins.
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Postby HellboyOne » Wed Mar 17, 2004 12:59 pm

First post, everyone. Hello, hello.

I've been emailed these show reports by a friend of mine for some time now and thought I'd join in.

Am I the only one who finds this renewed animosity toward EC somewhat refreshing? Being a younger fan who missed all the fun of the early angry days, I was pretty happy to see a ranting, cursing Elvis at the UCLA show earlier this month.

And speaking of, with one exception, we had a great crowd at the UCLA show. I might have been put off by the heckling and walkouts of the Chicago show, but in LA it seemed that if anyone was opposed to EC's views (which happily mirror mine) they kept their mouths shut and their seats warm.

Anyhow...I'm here. I usually start with "Oh I just don't know where to begin.." but today, I guess I did! :)

R.

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Postby elvisisking63 » Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:30 pm

I can sympathize with cbartal, to a certain extent. When EC spends a career pretty much letting his music and lyrics speak for themselves, and then starts launching into political diatribes from the stage, it an be upsetting if you happen to disagree with his politics -- envigorating if you happen to agree. Elvis HAS done political songs in the past (PLU, Shipbuilding, Tramp the Dirt Down), but he seems to be making a gradual shift in public persona by being more outspoken against the Bush administration. Maybe he's always been this way, but I'm just noticing it more now that he's a U.S. resident and he's taking aim closer to home.

Personally, I laughed out loud last night at all of his jokes, because I still saw what he was doing as comedy -- in character for "God's Comic," a schtick he has done for years now. The thing is, I've always read God's Comic as commentary on pop culture, not on politics, so perhaps this year's monologue is a bit out of place.

And there were other political potshots in the show, and he has said other things on TV and in the press lately about what's happening in the world. (I thought his comments about censorship at the Oscars were stupid, frankly.)

I'm getting slightly (emphasize slightly) concerned that he will become more pedestrian if he becomes more consciously outspoken. I want my artist-hero to be an artist who can change society through his work. I don't want him to be an amateur political analyst firing half-baked potshot opinions.
Mark

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Postby Black Sails » Wed Mar 17, 2004 2:28 pm

My wife and I were sitting one row behind the asshole heckler who got ejected. I thought that EC handled him well (as did the ushers). We got to see Elvis after the show at the stage door. He said the guy threw him off his game, momentarily. I wouldn't have thought so if he hadn't mentioned it. I was blown away by the entire performance. We caught all of his Chicago shows on the WIWC tour--including the amazing, 3+ hour U of Chicago show--and last night was superior IMO.

Black Sails in the Sunset, followed by Suit of Lights, followed by All the Rage. What a one-two-three punch. Talking in the Dark was a nice surprise. I warmed to North--at last. I loved the new songs, as well. Especially Country Darkness.

Mr. Foyle is right. Strange things do happen when EC comes to Chicago, but the evening's entertainment is always top-rate for me.
yakety-yak

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Postby martinfoyle » Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:14 pm

Talking in the Dark was a nice surprise.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I have to get a boot of this show. Now if he'd only do Wednesday Week some time soon....
I heard the latest version of his Gods Comic monologue on the boot of the recent Boston show (such are the means Dublin residents now have to resort to). While it did strike me as being a bit pass-remarkable, he has always been prone to making rather sweeping political remarks in a ott manner. Basically he's stirring the shit, though my sympathies to Craig for the hurt it appears to have caused him. Hopefully he, Craig, will sleep on it and resume contributions, they always make for good reading.

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Postby LessThanZero » Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:21 pm

Black sails, were you sitting right behind me???

Unfortunately, I was sitting in the seat right next to the girlfriend/wife/ignorantwhatever that was with my least favorite person in the whole world.

The couple entered during 45, and I could SMELL them coming towards me. He was WASTED drunk.

Elvis was so amazing. There was this beautiful hanging, silent moment after a beautiful, heartbreaking, stunning love song. That gorgeous moment was smashed by that loser yelling the F word at EC. My heart was racing, and I felt hurt for Elvis. I tapped the episode of blonde on the arm and quietly asked her to take her trophy-redneck (I didn't say that :D ) out of the theater. She just sat with her crying eyes closed; her head held up by her hand.

His 2nd outburst came during AN INCREDIBLE Motel Matches. I wanted to hurt him, but the girl was in the way. So I leaned over her and said THIS IS A RARE AND IMPORTANT THING FOR ME AND YOU ARE RUINING IT!

Then he FINALLY grabbed his coat, drunkenly mumbled about hating elvis, waited for silence, and as he was leaving, yelled out something like YOU'RE AN ASSHOLE ELVIS, GO FUCK YOURSELF AND DIE, blah blah blah.

I was so angry. He was ruining this beautiful show in this beautiful theater.

JF was right, the whole chemistry was off for most of the night after that.

But Elvis dedicated his whole first encore to perfectly berating the idiot who put a blemish on my night.

-----------
Alibi Factory
Black Sails in the Sunset (yes!)
Suit of Lights
All the Rage
---------------

White noise going yakkety yak....the irony is, these are probably all songs the monkey man would've liked. So that's kind of nice. :)

Elvis was great. Steve was even MORE virtuosolike than usual. You guys, these new songs are so wonderful. I CAN'T WAIT for this next album. He said it was called "South". :D

Delivery Man, Country Darkness and the one about Ivy were all so beautiful. The closest thing we can compare these songs to from the past is KING OF AMERICA. DID YOU HEAR ME SPOOKY!?!?!?!?! :D :D

I didn't like the monkey to a man one AS MUCH, because the fade out sounded just like the fade out to MIRACLE MAN, which made me really wish he was singing MIRACLE MAN. :D

I didn't laugh as much during God's Comic as I did in Nashville. I guess it's not as good the 2nd time. I was following along with the delivery he gave at the Ryman, which was timed better in my opinion. :D

OH, plus I brought my Best Man-to-be Richard with me. Our nickname for him is RUSH, and it's not because he's a pill popper. He's not obsessed with EC YET, but he really liked the show. Especially Steve's piano playing. Well, he didn't laugh during God's Comic either. :D

I've probably forgotton tons of things that I thought to report during the show...

OH, my car barely made the trip. By the time we got to the theater, the antifreeze was boiling and evaporating. That can't be good. It stalled at every stop. :(

You guys are the best.

plu,

ltz


OH, and I almost felt embarrassed for the woman that was with the Pain, but then again, she was WITH HIM, so that made me indifferent to her embarrassment. :D
Loving this board since before When I Was Cruel.

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Postby LessThanZero » Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:28 pm

And the drive home was TOUGH! I was so sleepy! The show ended around 11, which was midnight in my town about 2.5 hours away. So I fell asleep after 3 am, and woke up for work by 6. The things I do for this guy...
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Postby Toy Soldier-Scaremonger » Wed Mar 17, 2004 7:18 pm

Judging from the events that took place at the Chicago gig and having joyfully witnessed the Toronto show 24 hours earlier, it appears to me that the last two shows were probably the highs and lows of the NORTH American 'NORTH' tour. I'm certainly pleased that was at the penultimate show.

As many may know, whenever an EC tour ends to be followed by an extended period of inactivity, the Scaremonger rides off into the sunset only to reappear a year or two later. I decided to take the same action after the Toronto show for the same reason. (Sorry Mug! I broke my promise again. :( ) I think that pretty well every single topic to be discussed about a man's music was addressed on EC's message board between early '02 and late '03. These boards are good when tours are taking place otherwise they become very redundant and relatively meaningless.

I want to respond to the comments that cbart made after bein' at the Chicago show and I hope that you're reading this Craig. I am 100% in agreement with you that Elvis did and frankly, ALWAYS has exhibited extraordinarily naive perspectives on world politics and how a country should be run. Just today in the car I had to skip to the next track on the Spike bonus disc not wanting to hear 'Tramp' because of the ignoramic commentary on former PM Thatcher. It's a shame because like every single song he's ever written it is brilliant. The fan's of a musicians artistry should not take personally a person's own views on matters that are political or anything. It's only music.

As it stands, I am a conservative and have supported the Progressive Conservative party of Canada, Prime Minister Thatcher from '79 to '90, and was an ardent supporter of the Reagan and Bush administrations during the time that I lived and was educated in the United States. I simply brush off Elvis' comments that are derrogatory against certain forms of government since he obviously hasn't lost the feelings of the angry young man he once was, nor should he! It's part of what makes him the gifted and creative genius that he is. My first reaction to hearing his rant against Bush and Cheney (which I knew was coming) was to take offense and then I reminded myself: this man is not a politician, has never run a country and never will. He is a songwriter and an extraordinarily gifted artist. He is my favourite singer/songwriter in the world and will always be regardless of what he believes politically. I think it's important that people be able to separate the two.

So in summation, I respect Craig's decision and can fully understand his reasoning but think that he made one that was far too harsh, overreactive, and irrational. It reminds me of what I said as a 20 year old punk when I heard that Pete Townshend said he knew what it was like to be a woman. I said I'd never listen to his tunes again. Who cares about what someone believes personally? No pun intended. It's the music that's important and Elvis' music always has touched, impacted, and influenced my life in very special ways and it always will: even if he has no clue as to what a sound government is! :o

The Scaremonger will be back for 'The Delivery Man' and I can't fuckin' wait for it!

P.S. Hope you ran into Tom Arnold! :lol:
I can't remember being any younger.

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Postby Mr. Misery » Wed Mar 17, 2004 7:46 pm

It's a shame the tour ended with these sour notes, despite the characteristically generous set list and all the surprises. I saw him near the beginning of this mini-tour and he delivered a superb show in the face of a throat complaint, and heroically met with fans after the show. As for the hecklers they are disgraceful and dismaying, some worse than others. There were some boors at the concert I attended, and he did well to ignore their drunken stupidities. But I find myself seemingly alone in being disappointed with the way Elvis handles the worst of them, not with wit and eloquence but responding in kind with crude vulgarity. Although this is understandable, and the display of temper is forgivable, it is still disheartening.

I read cbartal's comments with sympathy and chagrin. The 'God's Comic' monologue interludes are theatrical commentary primarily on pop culture and intended to be funny. Any offensiveness aside I have never found them to be to my taste, and EC has always made rather heavy weather of topical political matters. I recall many years ago hearing a version that included interminable references to governmental corruption, which prompted an audience member to call out "Give me a break!" While I would never resort to such rudeness, I understood his frustration. I'd like to know what EC said to cause such a staunch fan to walk out in protest, but perhaps it's enough to know that it did. The great majority of his fans think along the same lines politically and EC indulges his one-sidedness with abandon and a lack of nuance. He can be hurtful to those who simply disagree and feel that they are being mocked and caricatured.
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Postby alexv » Thu Mar 18, 2004 12:00 am

My take on Elvis' political commentary in Chicago and the reaction of the poster who signed off is that Elvis certainly has the right to rant against whatever he wants, and he can be as vicious as he wishes, although I would prefer that an obviously intelligent artist such as he would choose to make his case in a more subtle and thoughtful manner. When he chooses not to do so, however, he runs the risk of offending persons who have deeply felt and personal views other than the ones he expresses. The person who reacted to his comments at the Chicago show is clearly one of them. And I can understand why no matter how great an artist Elvis may be, this person has decided in good conscience to not continue his allegiance to him. We all have certain lines which we do not permit others to cross, no matter their how highly we esteem them, and given our diversity of views and our different perspectives the burden should be on all of us to find ways of addressing issues without crossing those lines. Many years ago I (and probably a lot of people on this board) was faced with a similar issue when Elvis made his comments about Ray Charles. I came very close to writing him off then for his inexcusable words, but relented when it became obvious that his was just a drunken rant. The point that I would make on his comments is that intelligent, thoughtful persons (and I include Elvis (when not drunk) in that group) should engage in discussions about complex issues (such as Iraq and homosexual marriage) on which reasonable people can disagree without engaging in simplistic sloganeering. Doing it in the context of his God's Comic spiel is not the way to do it.

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Postby martinfoyle » Thu Mar 18, 2004 7:03 am

http://www.suntimes.com/output/rock/cst ... vis18.html
-
Costello and Nieve score political points in song

March 18, 2004

BY LAURA EMERICK Staff Reporter

For trenchant political commentary, the nets should kick out insipid blowhards like Hannity & Colmes and install British pop-music iconoclast Elvis Costello instead in the pundit's seat.

Witness his withering take on the Bush administration, delivered between the verses of "God's Comic," in concert Tuesday at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, where he performed an alternately searing and tender semi-acoustic set, accompanied by longtime collaborator Steve Nieve. Riffing on the current U.S. political situation as ably as he riffed on guitar, Costello conjured images of veep Cheney partaking at "an all-you-can-eat buffet. Let's hope that he doesn't eat too much and die from a heart attack, because then there'll be nobody running the place. But first, though, he's got to get his hand out of the a-- of his Texan hand puppet."

Advantage, Mr. Costello! Moments like these proved that his recent marriage to Canadian jazz goddess Diana Krall hasn't tempered his satirical sting. When his latest disc, "North," which attempts to reinvent pop music as lieder, came out last fall, the Elvis faithful feared that he might be lost to the rock world, perhaps in part due to Krall's influence.

Mixing up selections from "North" with quirky choices from his vast catalog (such as "Home Truth" and "Motel Matches"), Costello (often on guitar) underscored the classical structure of his body of work. By emphasizing the common threads running through his ouevre, he reminded us that "North" is not an aberration but an organic piece in his intricately woven artistic tapestry.

As an added benefit, the stripped-down treatment brought the emotional truth of songs such as "You Left Me in the Dark" to the fore. On "North," it sounds like a dirge; live, he reanimated it with genuine pain and passion.

Once again, Nieve proved the ready foil throughout, whether at the piano, on synthesizer or the melodica (a sort of combo keyboard-harmonica). At every turn, he demonstrated his extreme versatility, ranging from baroque filigree to Jerry Lee Lewis-style stomp in the course of one song, as he did on "Talking in the Dark."

After artfully negotiating the stylistic signposts of the Costello songbook, the Elvis & Steve Show closed with "[What's So Funny] 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding," freeing the Nick Lowe standard from the faux irony of Bill Murray's tortured sendup in "Lost in Translation."

Then they settled in for four sets of encores, which ran longer than the actual show itself, for a total of 2-1/2 hours of pure, unadulterated Elvis. Sprinkling a little "Sgt. Pepper"-style sugar on his fans, Costello joked, "You're such a lovely audience, we'd love to take you home with us." He also thanked the crowd for "your kind attention to the songs from 'North.'"

With that, the duo went off to the races, thundering out "Alibi," "Suit of Lights" and "All the Rage" and then switching tempos for a gentle "Still" (another "North" song, on which Costello proved himself a master of phrasing and shading).

Mostly avoiding his "hits" (amen for skipping tired faves like "Alison") even during the encores, Costello previewed songs from his next disc, which appears to have an Elton John "Honky Cat" kind of vibe (don't shoot me, I'm only referring to the piano player).

He then accompanied himself on ukulele for a poignant version of the Oscar-nominated "Scarlet Tide" from "Cold Mountain" ("What are you cheering for? It didn't f------ win.") and finally closed with James Carr's soul classic "Dark End of the Street."

It was the kind of Election Day surprise that delighted all parties.



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Postby elvisisking63 » Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:30 am

Review in Chicago Tribune:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/ ... 3849.story

Costello and Nieve reach true `North'
by Joshua Klein
Special to the Tribune

March 18, 2004

Elvis Costello's career may have been born out of the fury of punk rock, but for all his rough edges the man's a formalist at heart.
From country to classical, Costello has flitted from style to style with an almost academic discipline. The singer hasn't always deflected accusations of dilettantism, and "North," his recent stab at jazzy, piano-drizzled torch songs, has in particular proven a love-it or hate-it exercise.
While its admittedly beautiful songs are somewhat fussily "composed, arranged, and conducted" by Costello himself, "North" features a predictably ace array of supporting players, none more essential than longtime Attractions keyboardist and redoubtable foil Steve Nieve. The pianist knows how to strike the right balance between pomp and playfulness, a crucial contribution when he teams with Costello in a duo setting.
Appearing at the Oriental Theatre, Costello and Nieve performed a good chunk of "North," breaking up Costello's song-cycle narrative of love lost and found into separate servings, book-ended by idiosyncratic selections drawn from the singer's vast catalog. But the "North" songs stood out for their starkness and simplicity, played to the pin-drop silence of a rapt audience, who swooned along with songs like "You Left Me in the Dark" and "Fallen."
Before diving into the "North" material, Costello and Nieve played a riveting "The House is Empty Now" from Costello's Burt Bacharach collaboration "Painted from Memory," concluding with the singer standing alone in the spotlight at the lip of the stage, belting out the final notes sans amplification. When "Painted" was released, some complained about Costello's tendency to write songs too tough for him to handle, but six years later his singing sounds better than ever. Often with just Nieve's sedate accompaniment--leaving his voice virtually naked--Costello navigated the tricky turns of even his most complex tunes with gusto.
Tackling his catalog, Costello used his vocal prowess to toy with the phrasing and delivery of songs such as "Motel Matches" and "I Hope You're Happy Now," the latter transformed into something approaching a breezy ballad. Those hoping for more familiar hits eventually got a few, but the night was filled with relatively obscure Costello gems, from "Home Truth" to "Black Sails in the Sunset."
The always animated Nieve bobbed and danced behind a grand piano, his precise pounding and delicate filigrees adding new accents to the likes of "Suit of Lights" and "All the Rage," and aiding Costello's tricky transition from the forgotten "Inch by Inch" to Peggy Lee's "Fever."
As Costello tried out a handful of unreleased songs, like the bluesy "Delivery Man," and Nieve shifted from piano to keyboard and melodica to attack Costello's classics, you could sometimes see the old friends smile at one another. Even a pair of consummate pros know a good thing when they hear it.

Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune
Mark

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Postby so lacklustre » Fri Mar 19, 2004 3:38 pm

Can anyone really be a Thatcher supporter and an Elvis Costello fan?
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Postby bobster » Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:43 pm

I'm sure you can -- just like I can be someone be the bleeding heart liberal that I am and love movies by conservatives like John Ford, David Lynch, Don Siegel and EC's new pal, Clint Eastwood.

In my book, artists are allowed to make points I disagree with -- even to the point of making me really angry -- and I won't abandon them as long at they're work remains effective for me.

Admittedly, this doesn't come up for me too often since there's a tendency for artistic types to have progressive sympathies, but that's certainly not always the case. I can think of at least one of my favorite authors who's sympathies were extreme right (Fyodor Doestoyevsky, cartoonists Steve Ditko and Harold Gray) others who may have gone out of their way to indulge in antisemitism (William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald).

I didn't start thinking Neil Young was a no talent when he started praising Ronald Reagan. (Though I did wonder just what he was smoking.)

But that's one just one side of the coin.

Frankly, I think we Americans are awfully sheltered, politically. We're not used to genuine debate here. Our range of "acceptable" debate is far narrower here than in Europe and lots of people believe that going even a tad beyond those confines is some kind of offense, which I think is a shame.

And, just one last, admittedly far from unbiased, word. George W. Bush is being reviled all over the world, in country after country -- and I'm just talking about our allies! Several months back, when W's popularity was higher, I heard a pollster that the only other country where the perception of the U.S. wasn't tanking was Israel. A country that, unfortunately, has long been practicing a gone-it-alone, f##k the world foreign policy which I believes deeply informs the Bush doctrine.

That makes sense. Soon, we too may have to put up a fence. I think Elvis may be feeling that things are so bad, he really needs to speak out strongly. I agree. But that's just me -- and no one stopping Merle Haggard, Lee Greenwood, Ted Nugent or even James Brown (who I once saw in concert calling for prayer in schools) or anyone else from saying whatever outrageous things they want to say. It's only true that they won't be raked over the coals for their statements on cable news shows, while liberal musicians like Bruce Springsteen (they don't notice EC much) will be.
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Postby lapinsjolis » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:17 pm

If Mr. Costello was quoted correctly I have to say that it was neither original, clever, profound or constructive and could have been left unsaid. What happened to his wit? Has it been erased by being so close to bland jazz? Any point of view well and fairly stated is one thing this incident doesn't seem to be such an occasion.

If you are really concerned with human suffering making light of health problems lessens your credibility. It's an old joke too. :roll:
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Postby wehitandrun » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:43 pm

My god.

The man has views, the man has opinions... and the man has the stage(the stage he has earned the right to stand on). Just because he's in a cheesey theatre... doesn't mean he has to act like he was born to it(to quote the man himself).

I really doubt he was looking to change the world by playing a character in "God's Comic". It isn't that he's outspoken, it's that he waited to long to say it.

I loved the spiel, and I think it was very "witty" and "clever".

It's ELVIS COSTELLO, not Prince.

I'm delighted that the rant has filtered some of the fans out of his army. It's better that way.






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Postby lapinsjolis » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:49 pm

I agree he did wait too long since countless comedians already did. I for one expect something much more high brow from him but some settle for less.
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Postby BlueChair » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:49 pm

You have to remember that Elvis Costello, as intellectual and clever/witty as he is, started out essentially coming out of a punk sensibility.

This isn't the first time he's made harsh comments, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Personally, I take comfort in the fact that his personality hasn't mellowed with age.

I'm also kind of bummed out that there's this sudden backlash against Elvis. I just had an awesome week, thanks to the Elvis show on Monday night and related Elvis excitement....
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Postby lapinsjolis » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:56 pm

How about original? I'm aware of his politics and roots. No excuse for a recycled joke.

He's an unparalleled performer so you can stilll bask in the afterglow backlash or not. :wink:
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