You may remember I found out about this concert the night before my 20th wedding anniversary and managed to get on-line to get tickets without telling hubby, so I was able to give him the tickets, or at least the information as his present. He’s more of an Elvis fan and I’m more of a Nick fan, so seeing them together was absolutely perfect for us.
The Great American Music Hall is a great venue, mostly because it’s pretty small. Smaller than the Warfield and much smaller than the Fillmore. The downside is that it’s MOSTLY standing room and what with hubby’s legs and my footsies, that is just not an option, which means we have to get there and line up early enough to be in with the first wave so we can run upstairs and get seats in along the edge of the balcony.
So there we were, 3rd and 4th in line on O’Farrell St, in the cold for about two hours. It wasn’t as cold as it could have been and we had fun chatting with folks on the line, comparing concert histories and watching as they all kept checking the Giants scores on their Blackberries and Iphones.
Toward the end of the wait, a group of “disabled” folks were put in front of the line ahead of us. I realize that not all disability is evident, but there didn’t seem to be anything visibly wrong with any of them. There was nothing we could do but snark and grumble, but none of them chose to go for the balcony during the great wildebeest migration into the theater, so it all worked out.
Since our tickets were for the 2nd show, we’d keep hearing snippets of music and freaking out every time
We got good seats with a great view of the stage, and set about waiting for the show to actually start, including sitting through a set by Austin de Lone and his family. He was playing mostly with Caroline, who I think is his daughter, and honestly sweetie, if you have to keep telling us that you wrote the song and that it has a really catchy chorus that we might want to sing a long on…it’s probably not that catchy and your wispy “Cat Power” style isn’t all that impressive.
Austin is a great keyboardist, but he came across as a bit of sad sack, which I guess is understandable, since the whole point of the concert was a benefit for a foundation started because his son was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome. During the “thank yous” he kept mentioning how hard this year has been for them.
Anyway on to the show…Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, on stage together, singing each other’s songs, with a hot-shit band - Paul Revelli, Ruth Davies (Kick-ass chick bass player), Bill Kirchen, Bob Andrews, Derek Huston, Austin de Lone.
They were on stage together the whole time and it’s incredible how well their voices fit together, and how much obvious affection and respect they have for each other’s music. Also, they have a very similar twisted sensibility when it comes to love songs. It’s hard to think of a “pure” love song without some does of poison that either one has written. Elvis singing “I Taught Her To Love Me” was a brilliant choice as was Nick doing “Oliver’s Army.”
Elvis talked about he wasn’t always a “ruin of a man” that we saw now, although he was actually quite dapper in his suit and hat. (Hats are the rock and roll toupee.) He seemed to imply that Nick had been both a corrupting force and an inspiration, while Nick talked about his time as Elvis’s producer which he said mostly consisted of showing up at the studio and smoking cigarettes as “Declan and the boys” made the records.
Pleasepleaseplease, someone write me some RPS---PLEAAAASSSSSEEEEEE!!! (Birthday coming up! Hinthinthint.)
Songs like “I’m a Mess” and “The Poison Rose” really make you wonder what each of those guys has been through to get to a place you write that kind of song. Elvis’s lead into Cruel to be Kind was spectacular. He did an awesome “Heart of the City.” Nick freaking rocked out on Mystery Dance and Accidents will happen.
And of course the expected, absolutely necessary finale was the slowed down version of “What’s So Funny Bout Peace Love and Understanding?”
There’s so much difference between the way Elvis sang that song back in 1979, where it was more of an accusation, and the way Nick sings it now and they way they sang it together, something between a plea and prayer, just insanely moving.
Greatgreatgreat show, and something well worth seeing, although I still think the time I saw Nick, solo at the great American a few years ago was even better, just because I love him so much and the way he owned that audience all by himself was nothing short of magical.
Anyway---we managed to get a cab and get home, but still needed wind-down time, so we didn’t really get to sleep until about 3:00AM, knowing full well that we wanted to get up to Golden Gate Park the next day for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.