Our normal routine is to never do concerts or movies, (At least it's my routine)but last night was the exception. We parked downtown in a church parking lot for a "donation" of five bucks, which was fair because we were a block from the Florida Theater, which is a good thing. Seventy five yards later we were at the theater, walking up the red carpeted stairs to the Loge section where we would soon be watching Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, in his latest music experiment.
Appalachian/Bluegrass music, that is.
The Spousal Unit has been wanting to see a Declan McManus concert since 1980 and her parents and I have been successfully avoiding those opportunities for almost thirty years. In fact, as recently as two years (I can't really remember) ago, I talked her out of us going because I said it would just be a mess, and besides, I hate standing in line for anything except government cheese.
The tickets were an outrageous $52.00, each and I purchased them over the phone when they went on sale at 10:00 AM some Friday morning in February. No problem, I thought, this is months away...
Well, time passed, as it usually does with lots of fun and frivolity and a Buffett Concert that cost us $350.00 to attend, and we were miles away from the stage.
Suddenly, $52 wasn't such a bad idea. This McManus cat seems to have a sense that music fans should not have to go in debt to see quality music. Looking back to the 70's and the 80's, 52 bucks is like 15 bucks back then.
The Florida Theater is a relic from the 20's, cozy yet ornate. I was in the balcony, second row and was no more than 45 feet from the performers, only about 25 feet in the air. Every seat is a good one.
My Elvis Costello listening has mainly been his early stuff, This Years Model, Get Happy, Spike. I have been aware of his critically approved music experimentation with other notable writers and performers, but I always preferred the old stuff, especially the punk/rockabilly style with social commentary. The music Costello did with Nick Lowe is still on the favorite listening list. One other thing; An Elvis Costello album was always jammed with many more songs than the average eight songs, of which five are listenable. Not Elvis Costello; He made sure you heard at least 15 songs (It seemed that way) of which the last song always cutoff because there was no more room.
Just like his concert last night.
The set list only contained a few of the old songs, but I never expected him to perform some covers of anyone else's music like this;
Double Click Image to get full Size.
I used this bootleg from four days ago because one, it only has a moment, (So McManus won't want to sue me for ripping him off, this is just a taste of the good stuff) two, that is the same view of the performance we had.
All that said, last night was incredible. There was not a bad song in the set (One exception was when Costello was doing "Allison", and when he slid into the Jim Reeves number, "...Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone..." some bimbo screamed out, "I love you, Elvis...!" in the hushed auditorium, which blew his concentration forcing him to restart the song. Not cool, especially since the performer was putting on an intense performance for our benefit. He seemed annoyed for a brief flash, because the performer is such a perfectionist and there had been no mistakes in the previous two hours of rapid fire songs. Even the crowd felt the penetrating stare of disappointment.
No doubt about it, Elvis Costello has more musical talent in his right shoe than just about any other well known performer, and that is in any style of music. This concert rates as one of the very best performances I have seen, which includes a 1992 Meatloaf concert at "Pappa's Bar" on Beach Blvd in Jacksonville, that had a ten buck admission.
It's not just the music that was enjoyable, because there is something to be said about watching Blue Grass live, but a concert goer must also include the experience of good acoustics, comfortable surroundings and nice fans who are there for a good time and not to get sloppy.
I prefer intimate concert settings.
Anyway, the songs came at us one after another, with no jibber-jabber other than a fast intro to the next song, if he felt like saying something after a quick sip of tea. "This next song is a rock and roll song from 1921..."
After two hours and fifteen minutes of almost non-stop music, Elvis jammed in two more songs while the Bass player was packing up his music briefcase!
The last Buffett concert will be exactly that; last. Unless it is at a venue like the Florida Theater. We will be sure to not miss the next Costello concert.
The Spousal Unit just walked by and said, "Are you critiquing the concert?"
"Why don't you write, 'I was dragged to the concert and had fun'."