Elvis Costello at Linser Auditorium, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. Photo; Francis Chung.
Has it really been more than two years since I last saw Elvis Costello play and felt compelled to write footnotes, basically, on all the curiosities in the set? The calendar does not lie. I’ve seen Costello perform probably 20 times since 1999, but I’d never seen him do a headlining solo set, as he did Friday night at Lisner Auditorium.
Because no one demanded it, I posted some notes over at DCist, where it’s been so long that I don’t even have my own login anymore. The post features great photos by Francis Chung, who took the one above. For an overview of the concert, the great and good Dave McKenna captured it well in his Washington Post review.
Elvis Costello and the Spectacular Spinning Songbook at the Warner Theatre last night.
Surely you know all about Elvis Costello‘s fantastical, angle-free song-selecting device. I wrote about some of the lesser-known jams it chose for him to play at Warner Theatre last night.
In 2008, I wrote about Elvis’s first Warner Theatre gig in 1978. (I wasn’t there, but I’ve heard it.)
Today my friend Amanda Mattos has left me the keys to her fine blog Pinna Storm while she is away on vacation. To help fill all that space, I wrote a thing about my man Elvis Costello‘s current, roulette-wheel-driven Revolver Tour, which I will be attending at the DMV’s finest outdoor music venue, Wolf Trap, on Wednesday night. But it’s really the problem of long-lived artists trying to summarize their careers in two hours, give or take, that I’m Rubik’s-cubing here.
So Elvis Costello is playing in town tonight. I am a fan. I admire a lot of things about Elvis besides the fact that he’s written hundreds of songs, a very high percentage of which I find listenable, dozens I think are pretty great, and at least a handful I don’t know how I lived without. (Not ’til I was 22 did a pal give me a copy of the The Very Best of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, if you can believe.)
Admittedly, my can’t-live-without E.C. playlist does not include anything from, say, the album he made with Anne Sofie von Otter, or the one he made with Burt Bacharach. But I commend his adventurousness and versatility, and especially his work ethic: He’s always giving songs away, interviewing Lou Reed or Bruce Springsteen or Bill Clinton on premium cable, singing on other people’s records, teaching himself musical notation 20 years into his career, composing a ballet, making unaccountable cameos in movies like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, writing an opera, and here and there tossing off another perfectly nasty rock song like it’s nothing. Dude always has four projects cooking and and nine more on the back burner, and he seems to pay for his collection of funny hats by flying around playing concerts that seldom repeat a setlist and regularly clock in around two-and-a-half hours. So: Respect.
Of course, Elvis’s productivity and idiomatic wanderlust are the selfsame qualities that can make him seem like an annoying magpie, especially to listeners who only want to hear him spit venom about Liv Tyler’s mom while keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas open up the throttle. Continue reading
Wait, why didn’t I go to Bonnaroo again? Just about all my favorite music-makers are there. A few of my friends, too.
We talked plenty about the utility of the flip camera on the NEA fellowship I just did back in April. And that talk was not just talk. Behold (via link, as I can’t embed video in my WordPress blog without ponying up some extra coin) what I could do if I was sweating it out in Tennessee with a flip camera. And I was a cute brunette. Continue reading
No matter how many Will Ferrell flicks or Stephen Colbert Christmas specials Elvis Costello turns up in, the circa 1978 image of him as the logorheic and self-immolating Angry Young Man endures.
But in the latter two-thirds of his wildly eclectic career, he’s evolved into something more like the Martin Scorcese of music, as much a historian and curator as he is an original artist. Continue reading
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Tagged Bluegrass, country, Elvis Costello, Loretta Lynn, Lou Reed, Merle Haggard, music, Post Rock, roots, songwriting, The Washington Post, Wolf Trap