The rich red sun set over a gray haired audience at the Malkin Bowl last night. Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, played a bustling set to an older audience, proving they can still rock. Mr.Costello and his six piece backing orchestra put love and passion into the entire performance. A seated, outdoor, summer night show is usually a very laid back experience, but the overall feel from the evening was sheer intensity from the performers. The crowd, being a little older was lackluster and remained seated the entire time. Elvis and his crew took to the stage for two encores, finishing the night off with their most well known songs, one of which being "Alison." The group of silver topped concert goers were very appreciative of the display and gave standing ovations after every one of the encore songs.
The Malkin Bowl was separated into two sections. Couples with blankets laid claim to their general admission land, and lay in anticipation of the performance. A stream of aged faces flowed into the assigned seating area. On the stage sat the instruments of the band; an accordion, an upright bass, and some other more common rock devices. The blue sky lined the backdrop of the amphitheater, and made for a peaceful scene.
With doors at 5:30, the main act took the stage at a little before 8 o'clock. Once Elvis and his band of instrumental geniuses took the stage, it was an immediate departure into musical bliss. The sound quality at this venue is beautiful, the natural shape of the area funnels the sound towards the listeners. There are no bad seats, everyone has a clear line of site to the stage. With the active day light it is hard to have a very deep range of lighting effects to support the performance. The background of the stage was illuminated with varying colors of lights throughout the evening, given as much supporting effect as possible.
Mr.Costello and his Sugarcanes were over the top, with improvised jams tacked on to every song. The variation in instruments made for a huge added range to the depth of every song. This filled each piece with new life, and caused them to be reborn. Elvis' interaction with the audience was fun and even comedic at times. He made mention of his upcoming 55th birthday, and the fact that he shared the day with Sean Connery and to his regret, Billy Ray Cyrus. Later in the evening he took a pot shot towards Celine Dion, which delighted the crowd.
The playing style of this act is superb. They jam together like an orchestra, with everything perfectly tied together. The only downfall of the evening was more to do with the audio engineers. Elvis' support singer to his right was killing a few songs with his twangy country style. The biggest reason being that his microphone seemed to be set louder than Mr.Costello's. Instead of his voice supporting and adding to the leads vocals, it took away and overpowered them. Barring that it was a perfect evening, the slight mix up with the microphones only lasted a few songs. With the night being a near 30-song set, a few mix-ups early are easily overlooked by an eager and appreciative crowd.
During the end of the show, the Sugarcanes and their fearless leader left the stage only to return for two encores. Both of which consisted of three songs. The mob in front of them was so enthralled by the second return to the stage, there was a standing ovation at the end of each song. When the final song was played, most didn't believe it to be over and sat clapping and cheering for nearly 15 minutes. After the realization that the blissful evening was complete, a steady stream filed out of the amphitheater.
A few eager fans sat at the base of the stage awaiting to retrieve a setlist. The staff of the venue, appeared out of the darkness and started removing the flimsy plastic chairs. The ground was sprinkled with a dusting of debris; mostly empty plastic cups and discarded ticket stubs. Slowly one by one the massive overhead lights powered down, fading to black on a perfect evening.