In light of my recent edition of KLSU's Magical Mystery Tour where I showcased English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, I chose to review the one of his concerts I attended on June 21. The show was at the infamous Ryman Auditorium in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. (Imagine the cowboy boots you see on game day times 10.)
I actually met and took a picture with Elvis, but, sadly, it was the wrong Elvis. As you can imagine there's a few Elvis Presleys walking around Nashville. ;)
The acoustics of the theater (est. 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle), although quite large, compliment the singer-songwriter style. Throughout, Costello's rough yet refined voice (HOW does he do that?!) resonated in the space, even when he pulled away from the microphone for an entire song.
The show was an acoustic set — just Costello and a myriad of guitars. This arrangement allows him to improvise and toy with the melodies. During songs like "Ghost Train" and "Watching the Detectives" I missed the full arrangement from the beloved Attractions band, but tear-inducing ballads like "Alison" and "Veronica" were served well.
The show had a 19-song set list and two encores of 10 more songs. Isn't that every fan's dream? He brought the warm-up band (a local sister act named Larkin Poe) back out to include female voices and a slide guitar, which was played more as an orchestration rather than a classic country instrument.
He performed many covers, including a medley of his own "New Amsterdam" and the Beatles' "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away." Costello's shouts of "Hey!" in the song were enough to raise the hair on your arms.
If you're a concert junkie like me, you may have experienced most of your shows standing and grooving. As much as I wanted that to be the case here, the crowd was older and the seats were tight. In that way, the show was much more an appreciation of the music. The theater was extremely quiet throughout the show, which made it difficult at times to sing along. It was as if the Ryman Auditorium was once again a church and here the audience was paying reverence to, as I like to call Costello, the "King of Alternative Pop." Their love for the artist was expressed in the standing ovations after almost every song.
Elvis Costello puts on a hell of a show. This night reaffirmed his place in my mind as one of the most brilliant and breath-taking artists of our time. After the show, we skipped down the Nashville strip like it was the Yellow Brick Road, singing Costello's music at the (almost) top of our lungs.