Usenet rec.music, June 1, 1991

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Usenet rec.music
  • 1991 June 1

Blogs

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Elvis Costello

Greek Theatre, Berkeley

Peter Feld

From the number of unfamiliar tunes he played, (some of which must have been obscure covers such as he often favors, but others of which had the distinctive Costello touch) I would not be surprised if another album follows Mighty within a short period of time.

This concert was good, but I wouldn't place it in the top tier of Costello concerts I've seen (those would include his last tour, the solo tour in 1984, and the '82 Imperial tour — I never saw him prior to that, unfortunately). Highlights included "Accidents Will Happen," "Veronica," "So Like Candy," "Playboy To A Man," "Sweet Pear" (featuring Elvis on lead guitar), "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," and that song I believe was entitled "Everybody's Crying Mercy." The flaws were probably due to three factors: it's early in the tour, the sound mix was a little muddy I found, and his voice sounds pretty raw (he complained about the air in Los Angeles, as he has been doing in interviews of late).

I will not comment on his current look, which most of you are familiar with, except to note that his beard and haircut bring back fond memories of 1971, when I suspect he might have looked somewhat similar.

"Accidents Will Happen" opened his last tour as well as this one. It was performed soulfully and in a way that called attention to the lyrics, unlike some of the numbers to follow, with an arrangement close to the original, but with subtle differences in nuance. Very poignant beginning, especially with Pete Thomas behind him pounding the drums.

After three numbers, Elvis complained about his voice and introduced "Georgie And Her Rival" with some sharp barbs aimed at Los Angeles. The song was done differently than the album, and I thought the attempt was unsuccessful. Strange things were done to the tempo, the key seemed to shift, and I'm sure no one who hadn't heard the song could have gotten the lyrics.

He sang what sounded like a patented Elvis country-western composition with the chorus "You've already put big ole tears in my eyes, why must you throw dirt in my face?" I liked it and found it ironic, while one of my companions thought he was singing it too seriously for it to have been at all tongue-in-cheek.

"The Other Side of Summer" was good, not great, mostly because the lyrics got a little lost in the mix. Great song, though. Who could ask for a more devastating analysis of pop culture in the '80s than this: "The dancing was desperate, the music was worse..." A nice antidote to those insipid "nostalgic" Mazda Miata ads out now, "It also takes you back." Takes you back to when, 1989? Gag me with a spoon! But I digress...

"So Like Candy," very good rendition. Afterward, Elvis said, "Here's a song about a very different woman entirely" and launched into a brilliant "Veronica," with him just strumming the first verse before the band joined in. He followed this with the same introduction, "..a song about a different woman entirely" which led into "All Grown Up," done nicely.

Two of the six unfamiliar songs were done together. The one I call "Strange" was rock 'n' roll, the band sounded tight but the lyrics were completely lost in the echo. He followed with a great political blues number, which ended with the line "Everybody's crying mercy, but no one knows the meaning of the word." That one had spare enough backing (great guitar from Marc Ribot) that the song could be understood. On another of the new songs, Elvis played keyboards for the only time in the evening. (Incidentally, he did no solo numbers, as he often does.)

"Sweet Pear," very good and good guitar work from Elvis. "Bama Lama Bama Loo" and "Playboy" were pure rock 'n' roll, a la early John Lennon (ironic given "Playboy"'s co-author).

"Alison" initiated the last encore (I've skipped describing all the other exits, beginning with the end of "Hurry Down Doomsday," when the audience was assaulted with blaring noise and blinding lights). The arrangement was novel, as it often is, set to a pulsating beat around which the opening chords gradually materialized. I guess since Elvis is apparently and unfortunately required to perform this song at every concert, he has been prompted to give it some interesting treatments. The end was reminiscent of earlier tours when he would segue into "Tracks of My Tears" and back to "Alison" again, but he didn't. "Pump It Up" was as always.

My only reservation about the concert was that it didn't have the high points of his last one (which included a great monologue in the middle of "God's Comic," a duet with Nick Lowe on "What's So Funny...," and the mix sounded better — he came here later in his tour if I remember right). I'm sure the problems will work themselves out during the course of the tour, and suspect the set list will vary. From what I could tell of the new material, it sounded good (but like all his recent work, will need several listens to be fully absorbed).



Tags: 1984 US Solo Tour 1982 US TourAccidents Will HappenVeronicaSo Like CandyPlayboy To A ManSweet PearDeep Dark Truthful MirrorEverybody's Crying Mercy   Pete ThomasGeorgie And Her RivalMust You Throw Dirt In My FaceThe Other Side Of SummerSo Like CandyVeronicaAll Grown UpStrangeMarc RibotSweet PearBama Lama Bama LooHurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)Tracks Of My TearsAlisonPump It UpGod's ComicNick Lowe

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Usenet rec.music, June 1, 1991


Peter Feld reviews Elvis Costello & The Rude 5, Friday, May 31, 1991, Greek Theatre, University Of California, Berkeley.


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