Club D, June 20, 2006

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Club D
  • 2006 June 20

Blogs

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Costello, Toussaint have fans movin'
to the groove at Wolf Trap


Dana

Elvis Costello has experimented with different formats at Wolf Trap in recent years. He has performed acoustic, accompanied by pianist Steve Nieve. He has played with the Imposters in a semi-uninspired short set and then sped out of the park. Last year, he and the Imposters rolled through a long, rocking set. But this year, on this tour, Costello was truly in his element, and the crowd seemed to love this jazzy, bluesy, swingin' side of him.

I got a preview of what this show might offer when I saw Costello perform at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in 2005, five months before Katrina blew through. The hurricane's devastation would inspire him to collaborate with New Orleans R&B Legend Allen Toussaint on a new album, The River in Reverse, most of which he performed at this show to receptive fans.

It was ambitious of Costello to open with "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," which set the bar quite high from the outset, but he would not disappoint. Following that classic, Toussaint and the Crescent City Horns joined Costello and his band for the nearly three-hour set.

Toussaint and Costello, both members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, each have such an extensive collection of songs, prompting Costello to declare, "We could be here till dawn." The two were a good fit. Costello's music lent itself perfectly to the swinging new arrangements, most of which were reworked by Toussaint. Of particular note was a jazzy, infectious new version of "Watching the Detectives," arranged by Costello, which included a kickin' horn intro.

The group performed several of Costello's well-loved hits, including "Alison," "Pump it Up," and "High Fidelity" as well as a few deep tracks from his vast songbook, including an outstanding version of "Tears Before Bedtime" from the album Imperial Bedroom. They also performed numerous Toussaint songs including perhaps his most famous, "Working In The Coal Mine," during which the audience sang along.

Costello's music adapted naturally to the New Orleans sound though much credit goes to the Crescent City Horns: trombonist "Big Sam" Williams; saxophonists Brian "Breeze" Cayolle and Amadee Castenell, and trumpeter Joe "Foxx" Smith.

The new material—including several songs Costello and Toussaint had co-written—was excellent. Costello took several sardonic jabs at the U.S. government response to Hurricane Katrina and also thanked the crowd for being so receptive to the new music, the bulk of which many of us had not heard before. But anything these guys collaborated on likely would sound fantastic; this kind of music gets in your blood and literally moves you.

And what New Orleans-style concert is complete without a tribute to Professor Longhair? Following Toussaint's piano medley tribute to "Fess," Costello performed "Ascension Day," a moving song he and Toussaint co-wrote for the new album. They borrowed the melody from the Fess's famous "Tipitina," transposed into a minor key, and the result is a poignant Katrina tribute. The lyrics remind us of the sad event that brought these brilliant musicians to the same stage, as Costello sang, "Now the wind had departed. Not a leaf was hanging on the tree like when it started. But I know they will return like they've never gone away, come Ascension Day."


Tags: Filene Center At Wolf TrapViennaVirginiaAllen ToussaintCrescent City HornsThe ImpostersThe River In ReverseSteve NieveNew Orleans Jazz Festival(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?Rock and Roll Hall of FameWatching The DetectivesAlisonPump It UpHigh FidelityTears Before BedtimeImperial BedroomWorking In The Coal MineSam "Big Sam" WilliamsBrian "Breeze" CayolleAmadee CastenellJoe "Foxx" SmithProfessor LonghairAscension DayTipitina

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Club D, June 20, 2006


Dana reviews Elvis Costello & The Imposters with Allen Toussaint and The Crescent City Horns, Thursday, June 15, 2006, Filene Center At Wolf Trap, Vienna, Virginia.


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