Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Elvis Costello & the Imposters, May 18, 9:30 Club

Haven't been able to post anything about this show until now, but let me start off by saying that this was a great, great show.

When I saw the show announced, I thought this would really be a great opportunity to see EC in a small venue. Plus I knew he was touring w/ the Imposters -- essentially the Attractions minus bass player Bruce Thomas -- who played on The Delivery Man which is a very solid, if not great, album. So I talked w/ Joe and Marty to see if they were interested in getting tix. They were, and Joe even decided he would travel all the way from DeKalb, IL, to DC if we were able to score some tix. At that point, it seemed like we *had* to go, no matter the cost or effort.

I went online to order tix right when they went on sale, thinking that the show would sell out pretty quickly. I had no idea how much tix would be, but I was guessing they'd be somewhere in the 'hood of $50-60. That's the most I've ever paid for tix at a 930 show (for the Pogues), and I thought they wouldn't charge more than that for a show at 930! Wrong! All said and done, including the ever popular convenience charge and handling fees, the tix were $84 with a face value of $75. But eff it, at this point I was committed, and I bought 'em. Yea, sure, that is *a lot* of money to pay for a show. And it's always really hacked me off when I see old 60s and 70s bands going on tours and charging exorbitant ticket prices, and then seeing people actually pay those prices. Y'know, secretly ridiculing the oldsters for their nostalgia trip at any price. But I swallowed my pride and clicked the Buy button.

Just a thought to try to reconcile my conflicting feelings about this... well, first I don't really feel like I need to rationalize all that much. But there's no comparison between EC and the Eagles or the Stones (for example), in terms of nostalgia trips IMO. EC is still pumping out new and ambitious music, which is not to say that I really like all the new stuff, but you can't argue that he's resting on his past. That said, this tour is especially loaded w/ older stuff, and I have to admit that was a big appeal for me. Marty and I had gone to see EC at Wolf Trap maybe like 7 or 8 yrs ago (?), and boy, I gotta say I didn't like that show much. There were many reasons: the wine and cheese crowd on the lawn, the Burt Bacharach-styled set EC played, and the boring songs and arrangements that didn't fit the venue, IMO. If I'm seeing a show that's outside, and I'm on the lawn about 100-150 yards from the stage, my attention is not gonna last too long when the artist is playing Tin Pan Alley ballads and lounge versions of his old hits (What's So Funny...). I tried to make an effort, but that didn't last long. Marty and I were not too satisfied w/ that show (which is kind of an understatement).

Oh one more thing: of course, Jane was born early so I almost wasn't able to go. It was really up in air whether I'd be able to make it, and if it wasn't for Liz's generosity and Jane's good nature, I certainly would not have gone. But the fact that all these things were working out when they could've easily not worked out -- us getting tix, Joe coming to town, Liz and Jane's accommodations, Marty supressing a debilitating headache -- just heightened the sense that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Anyway, enough backstory/introductory text... We got to 930 early before doors opened because we had read online that other shows on this tour were starting early, like around 8:15pm. When we got inside, we got right up in front of the stage, prolly about 10-15 ft away from where EC would be standing. So, with our ground staked, we got some beers and waited for the lights to drop. EC came on around 9pm and jumped into Welcome to the Working Week, and then proceeded to rip through a 33 song set with 3 encores. Plus Allen Toussaint joined EC and the band for 3 songs! Wild. Allen Toussaint did one his own songs too (Yes We Can Can), which was fantastic. There were many, many highlights: Strict Time, Country Darkness, Clubland, Beyond Belief, Lipstick Vogue, Riot Act, Monkey to Man, Hey Bulldog... just too many to mention, really. EC wasn't too chatty at all throughout the show, just going from one song to the next. The band sounded fantastic and ultra tight, and I thought the "new" bass player really filled in well. Steve Nieve was especially fun to watch. He looked some kind of mad scientist at his racks of keyboards and effects (including a theremin!). Toward the end of the show, maybe around the 2nd encore, the beers were starting to take their toll, so I had to fight the crowd and miss a few mins of the show to make it to the bathroom. I tried to last, but there was no way. This was after about 2.5 hrs of standing there! So, I apologize to everyone I may have pissed off getting to and from the bathroom, but it couldn't be helped.

Funny moment: after the show, people were milling about, and a girl walked by with a setlist -- two sheets of paper taped together. She walked by me, and stopped, and I thought she was offering me one of the sheets of paper. So I took the setlist and started to try to rip the tape apart so I could take one of the pages. The girls says "What are you doing??", and I realized that she wasn't actually offering a page of the set list to a complete stranger. I felt pretty stupid, and immediately apologized and let go of the pages. Too funny. :-)

Afterwards, we headed over to DC9 for some post-show beers. I saw Joe Englert there, and we said hey to each other and chatted for a minute. He was at the show and had bought some t-shirts, one for his daughter. I then wished that Jane was old enough to fit into an EC t-shirt. Not even close! She'll have to wait until she's older for her dad to annoy her w/ all talk and stories of "his" music. I told her so when I got home that night. I don't think it sunk in... I'll keep trying.


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