elvis costello, vancouver, 7-21-03
The Orpheum, Vancouver, BC
The show took place at the Orpheum, which is the home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. I salivated at the thought of perfect acoustics as I took my seat in the second row of the balcony; not as close as I thought I’d be, but given the context of the show, it was absolutely perfect.
This tour is just Elvis and Steve Nieve, and as much as I love Elvis’ rawk shows, this was a lovely, refreshing, simply beautiful performance. It didn’t feel like a pop music show, it felt more like I was seeing Frank Sinatra, or something.
His stage presence was simply masterful. He filled the stage even though it was just the two of them. And the setlist was out of this world (see below). The crowd responded in the same spirit, keeping absolutely silent through the entire show – except for one idiot, who, about 1/3 through the show, screamed out, “Play some rock songs, we’re falling asleep up here.” I held my breath, waiting for a typical biting Elvis response, and he did not disappoint: “Well, you know where the door is, then… as a great Irish poet once said, ‘We mean it, man.” I later commented that it wasn’t like someone yelled out “Judas!” or something…
The highlight of the show, for me, was when Elvis had them turn off the microphones and he came to the edge of the stage and sang unamplified. And he carried it off with power and presence and it was utterly awe-inspiring. Second highlight: the crowd call and response during “You Really Got A Hold On Me” (slipped into “Deep Dark Truthful Mirror” during the first encore). Third highlight: Elvis’ uncensored digs at the States. It felt kind of strange to be an American in a thoroughly Canadian audience hearing these statements (which I agreed with, that wasn’t the problem).
I have accompanied this man through almost every single stage of his musical journey from the very beginning, seen him on Broadway and at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium and at the Bridgeport Jai-Lai fronton (not kidding). I just feel blessed to have the perspective and the privilege to have been there all along the way.
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