05 November 2002


That's how my mom pronounced it when speaking of Mr. Presley. For me, the only Elvis that matters is Costello. This is my review of the concert of Nov. 1:

EC played here tonight, "here" being the Hard Rock Live. Any of you who have been to any of the Hard Rock establishments know what this is like. Evidently EC likes the place, he's played here both times he's been in Orlando in recent memory (his last show was almost exactly two years ago, the him-and-Naive-only tour). Overall, I thought this was a well-balanced show with only minor flaws (which I'll discuss, how could I be a fan if I didn't dwell on imperfections?), pretty good sound, a lot more "noise" this time (thanks to Pete Thomas and the bass player, whose name I didn't catch but who did a very respectable job on backing vox). Opening act was Laura Cantrell. I'm sure she's nice (the 2nd half of her set, which I caught, was pleasant enough) but she didn't make an impression on me. A bit more country than I like (and I like Iris De Ment and EC's "Almost Blue"!). On to the set list. An asterisk (*) marks selections I thought were exceptionally well done and/or were songs I particularly wanted to hear this time out, and an exclamation (!) indicates surprises. For starters, let's get the disclaimers out of the way: I like most everything EC has done over the years, never warmed up to Kojak Variety but apart from that pretty much every album he's done is all right by me, even the "experiments." My fave album is ... hmmm, Get Happy or Trust. I've seen EC about six times live, most in the early 80s and now twice in the past five years. IMPORTANT: I don't yet own the new album and so probably screwed up a few of the song titles. Here's the song order, mistakes and corrections gratefully accepted: I Hope You're Happy Now Doll Revolution Party Girl* Waiting for the End of the World (!) (I Don't Want to) Go to Chelsea (!) 45 Less Than Zero (!) I Want To Be Loved (!!) Spooky Girlfriend _A new song that prominently featured the word "Inside" -- "The Judgement" perhaps??_ Clubland (extended) * I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down (too fast but otherwise really great)* Man Out of Time Indoor Fireworks * Girls Talk (!) _A new song with "Act Your Age" in the chorus -- "15 Petals" maybe?_ When I Was Cruel (please see note below) First Encore: What's So Funny Bout PLU Oliver's Army (great version) * _New song, "In Your Eyes" in chorus_ Second Encore: _Song I heard as "Rattlesnake Sphinx"_ Dust Final Encore: Alison MEDLEY w/He'll Have to Go (Jim Reeves cover)/Suspicious Minds Watching the Detectives (please see note below) Radio Radio (really good) * You Belong to Me (not the Carly Simon number, obviously -- have I got the title wrong?) Slow Down (an obscure Beatles cover) (!) Pump It Up As I say (and let me emphasise) overall, a great show. A couple of train wrecks, though: "When I Was Cruel" (and remember this is my first real hearing of it) starts off GREAT -- wonderful atmosphere, superb lyrics! -- and then after about four minutes the band jumps the train to indulgence-ville and it looked like they were never coming back. Another 8-10 minutes of what can only be described as noodling, complete with navel-gazing. I've seen EC do this before, most often with "I Want You," but this was nearly unforgivable. The band completely dissapated the energy that had been built up. Cut that one in half and you got something special. By the end I was wondering if they'd forgotten they were on stage. EC must have gotten the impression that he'd lost the crowd as well -- he finally cut back the effects box rather suddenly (well, I say that since we were all beginning to doze off), almost threw down the guitar and left suddenly. The band seemed a bit surprised. So endeth the main set. Didn't take long for them to come back for the first encore, so I guess EC wasn't mad or anything. The next few songs were again marvelous until we got to "Watching the Detectives." Now, this was a good version, but again EC went off on his effects box and forgot the show. Luckily, this time he snapped out of it after two minutes and finished the song, which pleased the audience. I understand the need to vary things up a bit on material you've performed countless times, but this fooling with the effects-box thing is the kind of stuff people do in their bedroom with the four-track, not on stage IMHO. Unlike "Clubland" which was stretched out but never left the rails, "WTD" wandered off but happily finished very strong. Compared to last tour, Steve was much better behaved (he had a tendency to really go off into flourish-land on the last tour) with only minor escapes from the norm. His keyboard sounds were fantastic, much better this time round -- a large collection of glass chime samples, I must say, and a farisa sound that sounded like a farisa!! Given the amount of This Year's Model material that turned up, this was a godsend! Pete Thomas' drumming -- well what can I say, it was excellent. He can really stir up the crowd, indeed at a few points he seemed ready to steal the show! Bass playing was perfunctory and fine, and the fellow did a great job on backing vocals (I'm sorry I didn't catch his name). There were a few moments where EC was clearly pointing the band in a direction they hadn't planned and they needed a bar or so to recognise the song and kick in. I *like* to see that sort of thing at a concert. Of the new material I heard, I liked most of it (particularly the ones I was most familiar with, "Doll Revolution" and "45"). "Dust" I really enjoyed, and the one I refer to as "In Your Eyes" was very good as well. The others kind of blended in for me, didn't stand out, but were fine. Sounds like WIWC is going to be regarded as a return to (fine) form. Biggest disappointment: He didn't do "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror," which is my wife's fave EC song other than "Shipbuilding". He did in Boston but not here. Shame, but oh well. 2nd biggest disappointment: very little in the way of swag, and most of it overpriced (actually kind of low for a Hard Rock show, but still). I just couldn't see spending $20 on a shirt that wouldn't fit me, and had no interest in the keychain or the $10 Japanese tour programme. And $20 for the CD? No thank you. No posters? No pins? No hats? Not much else to say. Tix were $39 before bloodsucker surcharges. Balcony seats were $10 more, I think. This time, I was glad to be on the floor. Crowd were older than I expected, or maybe it's me who is getting older. Not a very vocal or active crowd, which is the norm for Orlando for this sort of act. They applauded enough, though, so on the whole it was a fine evening out. Glad he came, glad I went, if he comes to your town you'd be a fool to miss it.

No comments: