Elvis Costello at Amoeba Records SF

by Dakin Hardwick on June 24, 2009

Holy Crap! Jim Lauderdale played for free at Amoeba!

Holy Crap! Jim Lauderdale played for free at Amoeba!

I consider myself to be a music fan.  I enjoy listening to music quite a bit.  When I’m not listening to music, I am usually talking about music or reading about music.  I consider myself to be pretty good at appreciating music… but I will never be as good at it as Elvis Costello.

Elvis Costello puts out, on average, one record a year.  He has experimented in nearly every genre of music known to man.  Renee Fleming and Nick Jonas both site him as a favorite songwriter. He even has a music talk show on the Sundance Channel!

So, Elvis put out a new record of country music, with a little bit of opera & broadway mixed in, called Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, and decided to promote that release by playing two shows in one day at two branches of the greatest record store in the world.  He played San Francisco at noon, and then flew down to LA to perform again at 8 pm.  Since I don’t have infinite money & time, I only attended in San Francisco.

As expected, the store was quite crowded.  Since I was at the show alone, it gave me a bit of freedom of movement, placing myself in the dead center of the store, with a nearly perfect perspective of the stage.

Since he had a tight schedule to uphold, the show began promptly at noon.  He opened up with a bouncy, countrified version of All This Useless Beauty’s “Complicated Shadows”, which was re-recorded for Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane. He had songwriter Jim Lauderdale on guitar & harmony vocals and Mike Compton on mandolin, giving every song an old-style bluegrass feel.  As for Elvis, his voice was in near-perfect form, as smooth & crisp as he has ever sounded, especially at such an early hour in musician’s terms.

We got Elvis in full-on country mode.  He wasn’t very talkative, preferring to play as much as he could, and only stopped to introduce the band and swoon over how much he enjoys a good record store trip.  Despite the relative lack of addressing the crowd, he was in great spirits, seemingly very eager to play these new songs.

The majority of the set consisted of songs from the new record, which was logical considering the the nature of the set.  The only time he dipped in to the past was for a spunky, driving version of “Blame It On Cain”.  He also brought out an accordion player, Austin de Lone, to add some extra color to the last 2 songs.

Excellent, professional set by one of the greatest artists living today. He stayed around to sign autographs, but sadly I had to go to work, so I missed my chance to actually meet him.

Here’s The Set List:

Complicated Shadows
My All-Time Doll
Down Among the Wines and Spirits
Blame It On Cain
Condemned Man (Unreleased)
Red Cotton
The Crooked Line
Sulphur to Sugarcane

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline June 25, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Is this the kind of country I would enjoy, you think?


Dakin June 25, 2009 at 4:54 pm



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