Sunday, August 23, 2009

Elvis Costello at the Greek Theater

In the fashionable nightclubs and finer precincts
Man uses words to dress up his vile instincts
Ever since we said it
He went and took the credit
It's been headed this way since the world began
When a vicious creature took the jump from Monkey to Man
Elvis Costello, singer, song writer, lyrics from "Monkey to Man"

It’s not very far from the cheap seats of the Greek theater to view an outstanding performance by Elvis Costello and a decent set from Lucinda Williams. I had the pleasure of watching Costello play songs from his new CD “Secret, Profane and Sugarcane.”

I had minimal expectations for the show because the last time, at least 10 or more years ago, I saw him at the Universal Amphitheatre, it was loud, had muddled sound, and his lyrics were indistinguishable, not in a Bob Dylan way just simply lost in the sound system. This show was more acoustic as he played nearly all the songs off “Secret, Profane and Sugarcane” backed by the Nashville band the Sugarcanes. He also covered his old hits such as “Brilliant Mistake,” “Allison,” “Watching the Detectives,” “Blame it on Caine,” “Everyday I Write the Book,” in the style of his new CD.

What was particularly nice was that I purchased the tickets from Goldstar at $25 each, plus an odious service charge. While at was in the last rows it wasn’t as far back as I could have been since the show was far from a sell out. They covered the extra seats with a camouflage tarp and wheeled in potted trees and placed them in the middle of the empty rows, which unless I was right next to it I never would have known there were rows of empty seats.

Lucinda Williams was good, but seemed too lackadaisical as if she didn’t really care, which I know wasn’t the case because she stopped in the early stages of a song because the string on her guitar was “poorly tuned.” The highlight of seeing Williams was her duet with Costello on “Jailhouse Tears” and the Rolling Stones hit “Happy.”

The only truly downside to the evening was the rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate dimwit knuckleheaded woman who insisted on talking very loudly during Lucinda Williams’ set, even when I politely signaled for her to be quiet. The woman could be a character from Costello’s song “How to be Dumb.”

The Los Angeles Times review of the concert can be found here.

I found this in the comment section of the LATimes article:

Main set: Mystery Train (Parker/Phillips) / My All Time Doll / Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down (Merle Haggard) / Down among the Wine and Spirits / Blame It on Cain / Femme Fatale (Lou Reed/Velvet Underground) / The Delivery Man / The Butcher’s Boy (traditional) / Jailhouse Tears* / Happy* (The Rolling Stones) / Indoor Fireworks / Hidden Shame / Dragging Me These Last Few Yards** / Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead) / Everyday I Write the Book / Five Small Words** (with a coda of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away) / She Was No Good / Brilliant Mistake
Encore: Red Cotton / The Crooked Line / (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes / Sulfur to Sugarcane / Complicated Shadows*** / The Scarlet Tide*** / The Race Is On (George Jones) / Alison (with a coda of Faron Young’s He’ll Have to Go)
* with Lucinda Williams, who wrote Jailhouse Tears
** unreleased song, title possibly incorrect
*** with T Bone Burnett

Lucinda Williams’ opening set
Hard Time Killing Floor Blues / Well Well Well / Happy Woman Blues / People Talkin’ / Fruits of My Labor / Blue / Jackson (with Jim Lauderdale) / Nothing in Rambling / Joy

Or for more info try:


Teresa said...

You prompted a couple of concert memories for me. The second time I saw Costello was at UC Irvine—I think it was the Blood and Chocolate tour—and he determined most of his set list by having concertgoers come onstage to spin a giant clicker wheel full of song titles. It was especially odd given that he was thought to be so damned serious at the time.

As for Lucinda Williams, the only time I've seen her was at McCabe's guitar shop, after her self-titled album was released. She was headlining and Syd Straw was opening, but she opted to play first and essentially warm up for Syd. We heard it was because she tended to get a bad case of nerves when playing live and preferred not to wait around if she could help it. That was back in '88 or '89, so I'm not sure if she's still so nervous about performing; if so, it might explain the detachment?

Concert chatterers should be kicked in the head.

The Misanthrope said...

This was no doubt a wonderful concert. Lucinda Williams was good and even more enjoyable when she came back on stage to sing with Costello.

I had a good opportunity to "accidentally" kick the chatterer in the head, but I opted for the high road, but I am came close.

Chandira said...

There's always one person who talks through a show and ruins it.. I had that recently at a movie, I was tempted to steal the guy's popcorn as compensation...