I've been wanting to see Elvis C. for some time now, so after he had to postpone his July St. Louis show, I was more than primed for the makeup date on Tuesday. Throat problems were the culprit in July, and they seemed to be threatening to recur as Elvis frequently walked to the back of the stage to shoot something from a spray bottle into his mouth and chase it with another unknown substance from a teacup. Apparently, they're a few days from the end of an 11-month tour, so I suppose a little throat trouble is not unexpected. He made it through in fine form, though, playing for two hours (including a half hour encore).
His band, the Imposters, which includes two of the three original Attractions, is fantastic. Steve Nieve, on various keyboards, accordion, theremin(!), melodica, etc., was doing something interesting at all times, completely filling out the sound of a one-guitar lineup. Elvis touched on almost all periods of his career with the setlist, expanding and/or rearranging the familiar album versions of most of the songs.
One highlight among many was the early-'80's "I Can't Stand Up"-to-"High Fidelity"-to-"Man Out of Time" sequence toward the end of the show. By the time Nieve started banging out the anthemic "Man Out of Time" piano chords, I'd damn near reached some sort of musical nirvana. New songs, lesser known songs, covers — it all worked.
Elvis' showmanship was something to witness too, as he wasn't afraid of the occasional sing-along or clap-along, exhorting the crowd to hold a note in "You Really Got A Hold On Me" "until you pass out."
Much of the encore could be interpreted as E.C.'s comment on the state of the world with "Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs are Taking Over)," "What's So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding," and the beautiful "The Scarlet Tide" (from the civil war movie Cold Mountain and his latest album) with its newly rewritten lyrics, "Admit you lied / and bring the boys back home."
If you have any interest at all in the man's music and he comes near your town, buy tickets first and check your calendar later. Trust me, you don't have anything better to do that night.