Monday, August 01, 2005

Elvis Costello & Emmylou Harris: Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA - July 31, 2005

We caught the final stop of the Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris concert tour last night at Wolf Trap Park in Vienna, Virginia.


A magnificent outdoor evening was made simply by watching Elvis and Emmylou singing together into a single microphone as they shifted back and forth in a bluegrass singing style, we felt nearly transported. You could virtually hear a pin drop, as the crowd of 6,000 were hushed by Elvis and Emmylou's near perfect harmonies.

Based on earlier rave reviews, we knew be in our seats early. Elvis Costello and The Imposters hit the stage at 8:00 sharp and did not stop until nearly 3 hours and 37 songs later. The setlist (see below) was simply stunning covering an astounding array of roots-folk music including covers of Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, George Jones, Louvin Bros., Rolling Stones, Merle Haggard, Townes Van Zandt, The Stanley Brothers and Bob Dylan.

Elvis launched into the night with a mini-review of many of his best known songs starting with "Uncomplicated" followed by hits like "Clubland" and "Waiting For The End of The World".

Several cuts from Costello's new album "Delivery Man" were performed. The title cut's (self)-referential lyrics were weirdly appropriate:
"In a certain light,
He looked like Elvis,
In a certain way,
He felt like Jesus"

Last summer when we saw Emmylou on the same stage for the
Sweet Harmony tour with Buddy Miller, Patti Griffith, Gilliam Welch and David Rawlings, her strength in an ensemble setting really was evident. With Elvis one could sense the genuine musical bond they have forged as they bantered about their love for George Jones songs.

Emmylou dedicated a song by Gram Parsons called "Wheels" during the middle 13 song country set. And the duets kept coming along with a gorgeous "Love Hurts".

From a review on HickoryWind:
"Harris has performed duets with many singers since Parsons’ death in 1973, and made all of them sound better. On Sunday she added an air of elegance to Costello’s voice analogous to the stately grace her silver hair adds to her angular features."

Among the evening's highlights were a great duet on the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses," "Love Hurts". A terrificly viscious "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea," Larry Campbell playing pedal steel on "Waiting For the End of the World". And three part harmony with the bassist Davey on Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet.


Elvis did a great cover of Merle Haggard's "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down" which he introduced as saying they tried to solve the problem of alcohol by trying to consume all of it.

Steve Nieve was great working 3 different keyboards and pounded out the often honky-tonk nature of the proceedings.

Wearing a tie, suit and sequin shoes, Elvis quickly sweated his outfit into a wet, dripping and shining sight, eventually working into a drenching frenzy for "Mystery Dance".

The evening closed out with the Oscar nominated song from the film "Cold Mountain" that Elvis co-wrote with T-Bone Burnett, called "The Scarlet Tide". With the lyric refrain of "Bring the boys back home", Elvis commented that wasn't an anti-war song but a song about "fear and hope".

"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" brought the ten song encore and the evening to a close. It was a big sing along and so ended one of the summer's concert highlights. Definitely glad we made it.

Setlist from Hickory Wind (also see review):

1. Uncomplicated
2. Clown Strike
3. Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)
4. (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea
5. Clubland
6. Country Darkness
7. Waiting for the End of the World
8. Stranger in the House (w/Emmylou Harris)
9. One of These Days (w/E.H.) by George Jones
10. Heart Shaped Bruise (w/E.H.)
11. The Bottle Let Me Down (w/E.H.) by Merle Haggard
12. Indoor Fireworks (w/E.H.)
13. Life’s Companion (Note: E.C. said this song had been co-written with T-Bone Burnett for a movie but the producers didn’t want to pay for it, so I don’t know the correct title. This one is based off information found on Costello fan sites)
14. My Baby’s Gone (w/E.H.) by Louvin Brothers
15. Mystery Train (w/E.H.)
16. Sin City (w/E.H.) by Gram Parsons
17. “You Don’t Know My Mind Today” (Again, I didn’t know this song so I listed a prominent line from the lyrics. At least one E.C. fan site indicated this is a new song he has been performing on this tour) (w/E.H.)
18. Red Dirt Girl (E.H. lead vocal) by Emmylou Harris
19. American Without Tears (w/E.H.)
20. Luxury Liner (E.H. lead vocal) by Gram Parsons
21. The Delivery Man
22. Bedlam
23. Monkey to Man
24. Needle Time
25. Mystery Dance
26. Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used to Do? by Hank Williams
27. Pump it Up
28. Wild Horses (w/E.H.) by Rolling Stones
29. Wheels (w/E.H.) by Gram Parsons
30. Pancho and Lefty (E.H. lead vocal) by Townes Van Zandt
31. Why Must You Throw Dirt in My Face? (w/E.H.) by Louvin Brothers
32. I Ain’t Living Long Like This (w/E.H.)
33. Gathering Flowers for the Master’s Bouquet (w/E.H and Davey Faragher) by Stanley Brothers
34. Love Hurts (w/E.H.) by Gram Parsons
35. When I Paint My Masterpiece (w/E.H.) by Bob Dylan
36. (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding (w/E.H.) by Nick Lowe
37. The Scarlet Tide (w/E.H.)


At 8/02/2005 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds awesome! Wish I made it.

At 8/03/2005 04:07:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...

I'm seeing him tonight at the Uptown in Kansas City. Wish Emmylou were still with him, but he should be great on his own, too.

At 8/03/2005 07:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was there too - thanks for the nice review!

At 8/04/2005 12:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

man, that sounds good and damn worth the price of admission.


At 8/04/2005 08:36:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review... i was there too. does anyone have the setlist of the show?

At 8/04/2005 05:04:00 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

costello had badass taste in music. until about 5 years ago i had no idea he was a HUGE dead-head and gram parsons fan


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