Elvis Costello/Spectacle

When did I decide I hated Elvis Costello?

Probably about the time the johnny-come-latelies started telling me how good "Spike" and the other Warner titles were.  Where was the sharp incisiveness of the vicious dude who threatened an audience member at the Whisky back in ’77?  The guy mellowed out, kept getting married and divorced and started making music you didn’t need to hear once.

So I wasn’t going to watch this show.

But you should.  Not because of Declan McManus, but Reg Dwight.  Elton is positively SPECTACULAR!

Oh, the show’s a bit stilted.  It’s got the feel of a demo.  But what Elton has to say…

You see Elton’s a fan.  I remember reading in "Creem" that they opened Tower up early for him, and he’d buy 300-400 records at a clip.  Elton’s championed artists from Neil Sedaka to Ryan Adams.  It’s like he’s one of us, but with a lot more talent.

Actually, Elton said he just wanted to work in the music business.  He didn’t need to be a star.  He just loved music that much.  Do you love music that much?  We hear about all the entertainment options.  That just tells me the music sucks.  Because when music is done right, there’s nothing better, no more powerful art form.  Look at it this way, has sex declined since the introduction of video games?  HDTV?  Sex lives in its own rarefied atmosphere.  And so does music.

If you were alive in the late sixties and early seventies you know this…

Elton starts testifying about Laura Nyro.  Says she was the inspiration for the instrumental changes in "Burn Down The Mission".  I remember him playing this song at Carnegie Hall back in ’71, when he threw in the riff from "Jesus Christ Superstar"!

Even better are his stories about the black touring musicians in the U.K.  Going to pick up Martha and the Vandellas at the airport in his Aston Martin. These were gods in his book, but they had to borrow money to get their clothes out of the cleaners.

Then Elton sits down at the piano and plays in the style of Leon Russell.  A man who’s been forgotten, but was a king for a few years back then.

The musical pieces suck.  I don’t want to hear Elvis cover someone else’s songs.  And, unfortunately, Elton’s voice is not what it once was.  The magic is Elton talking about music.  Unfortunately, talking down to the young, too often interspersed, audience.  It’s like a preacher explaining who God was.  We KNOW who God was.  All these musicians, whose records we bought, who we couldn’t get enough of.

Fire up this show.  Watch it.

And Sundance should make it immediately available online.  In its entirety.  Everyone’s invited to Bible class.  Sure, the church is supported by its main constituents, Sundance’s subscribers, but this information is too precious, too important to be limited to a small audience.

Comments are closed