Sunday, August 21, 2005

Elvis Costello & Emmylou Harris; Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA -- July 20, 2005

Forgive me as I draw from my archives -- we get out of the house so infrequently...

Drugs of choice

Randy & I stopped at Starbucks enroute – to suck down frappuccinos for our pre-concert caffeine/sugar high…and when we arrived at the Tower, we proceeded to drink vodka – and ultimately, alcohol won the arm-wrestling match with the caffeine. Which may explain subsequent delirium and amusement by the smallest lil thing, as in:

Hey, it's Cosmo

This guy approached us in the parking lot and, as is our usual m.o., at first we tried to ignore him. But he was persistent, and it turned out well-intentioned. Wanted to tell us that one could hear Elvis doing a sound check if one went into a nearby alley

The funniest thing about this guy was that he had a semi-crazy Kramer look going on. Not his general appearance as much as demeanor and that certain look in his eyes. Randy & I did duck into the alley which runs alongside the back of the theatre, We didn't hear much, but we didn't get mugged either.

The Michael Tearson factor

Background: A few years ago, we began to notice that legendary Philadelphia DJ Michael Tearson was at every concert we attended. (Granted, we don’t get out much, but still...)

In (I think) 2003, we saw him at a Camden County outdoor concert (Marshall Crenshaw?)… I happened to be doing shore traffic for Tearson’s shift on WMGK that summer, so we went over to say "hi" to him. If you are not familiar with Michael, he’s hard to properly describe, but suffice to say he is a unique human…very significant in the history of rock radio in Phila…and we had an interesting conversation with him – but pretty much shot our conversational load for the rest of our lives.

So, while we’re wandering around the lobby pre-show on Wednesday, naturally our conversation turned to Tearson. As in – I’m surprised he’s not here yet…I suggested a contest in which whoever spots him first is the winner…Randy suggests it would make a good drinking game (something involving shots, but we didn’t quite flesh that out.) We laugh and laugh in our silly little traffic reporter way.

As we make our way into the theatre, there he is! We slink by (because as noted above, we had nothing of any significance left to say to him) happy in our knowledge that since Michael was here, all was right with the world.

For the history of Tearson see:

The colorful plumage of a few select humans

Elvis audiences tend to skew older and usually that means we end up chanting “What are we doing here with all these old people?” even though they are probably within 5 years of our age. And usually it’s a pretty boring-looking crowd (Dockers and – wow -- Hawaiian shirt, how daring!) But on Wednesday, I was delighted to see a few long-in-the-tooth humans in outfits that evidently were inspired by some sort of mental illness. Or maybe Cindy Lauper a long, long time ago. Thank you so very much to the lady on the left side near the front for her multi-colored too-tight outfit that entertained my vodka-soaked brain for a few minutes pre-show. And hasn’t everyone gotten the word yet that men do not wear knee socks with shorts? Ever.

On the other hand, there was a 20-ish cool-nerd-type girl with a massive arm tattoo a couple rows ahead of us. It looked quite artistic and was only upper arm, so I suppose it could be somewhat easily covered (said in my "mom" voice.) I have fleeting thoughts every now and then that it would be fun to have a tattoo. Then I remember that I don’t like pain. Plus, there is no symbol that I can imagine being attached to (or having attached to me!) for the rest of my life. Except maybe the Hershey logo. Hmmmm…..


A rather nondescript 40-ish guy took his seat next to me shortly before the show began. We exchanged some pleasantries…he wondered aloud how folks managed to get the seats in the front rows (we were in row 00, in the front section about 2/3 back) and how they seemed to be disproportionately older. I quipped (oh, how I love to quip!) that they were probably thinking we were old…overall, a rather unremarkable conversation, and so you wonder, dear readers, why am I mentioning him at all? Because as soon as the first guitar strings were struck, he jumped out of his seat and proceeded to pogo non-stop. Surprising – but then again, it may have explained why he was attending solo.

Still, some unexpected entertainment, so thumbs up all around. And thanks for not bumping into me, as my motto is "no human contact."

Semi-review of the concert

Mr. Costello is generally a master showman – and can be counted on to entertain. His first “set” mixed Delivery Man tracks with some tried & true oldies.

Then Emmylou joined him. Yes, she is a country legend and her voice blended quite nicely with Elvis’ (although Randy felt the entire mix was too muddy.) But folks, she has the stage presence of a mannequin. I had expected maybe 5 or 6 songs and then Elvis back to his solo catalog. Instead, this portion of the show went on and on…and although I enjoy the country/roots genre in moderation, it wasn’t what I signed on for this particular evening.

To make it more distressing, many audience members left their seats and although they were generous with applause in all the polite spots, it was obvious they wanted a Best of Elvis show…which made me feel sorry for Emmylou (since she is a huge name in her own right) and I don’t like feeling bad for anybody when I’m paying to be entertained.

Still, there were highlights in their duets: Scarlet Tide, Heart-Shaded Bruise, Love Hurts…
Anyway, Elvis did come back and do a few on his own… I really didn’t need to hear “Pump It Up” in concert again, but it was a relief after all the low-key stuff.

I really missed previous shows' offerings like his creepily intense “I Want You” -- and he did nothing from his more recent CD “When I Was Cruel” which had a number of gems on it.

Anyway, enough of my whining!

Check out CostelloNews for set list and other fan reviews


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