Saturday, May 26, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW FLASHBACK: Fuel (05.04.10)

Brett Scallions

FUEL
Captain Hiram’s 
Sebastian, FL
05.04.10
___________________________

In the dubious tradition of
John Kay and Steppenwolf,
Michael Clarke and The Byrds,
Mickey Thomas’ Starship,
and more recently, Guns N'
Rosescomes the latest
rock revival misleader —
FUEL:
Featuring Brett Scallions.
___________________________



I first became suspicious when I noticed that my ticket read, “Fuel: Featuring Brett Scallions.” This is an old school tactic in which (typically) club owners, small-time promoters and or former rock contenders attempt to convince fans that a platinum-selling arena act will actually be appearing at their local “Brew & Cue” — when in reality, only one original member (or less) will be gracing the stage. The Guess Who have been milking this angle for years; promoting themselves as the “real deal” long after the departure of Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman.

I was of course familiar with Fuel's signature hits from ten years ago such as “Shimmer” and “Hemorrhage” but I lacked the connection necessary to recognize or even care who was on the stage — a girl who I have a thing for had two tickets for tonight's show and she asked me to join her. I offered zero resistance.

The initial crowd reaction was enthusiastic. The 500+ fans cheered as the band tore through such favorites as “Bad Day,” “Jesus or a Gun” and “Bitter Sweet.” Then, I began paying attention to comments being made by people around me. “This doesn’t really sound like them,” I heard one guy say. Another added, “they don't have the same energy anymore.” Then a disgruntled buddy of mine approached me and confirmed my original suspicion. “That ain’t Fuel,” he announced with a scowl.

My buddy was absolutely right (sorta). Upon a cracker jack investigation (Wikipedia to the rescue!), I discovered that after several years of intra-band discord, what I had actually seen tonight was something referred to online as the new “Re-Fueled” line-up — a hybrid version of Fuel, featuring Scallions and former members of other such top-name acts as Buckcherry and Shinedown.

I certainly don’t begrudge anybody, especially hard working, talented musicians for making a living. And I’m not implying that this billing was dishonest; just perhaps a bit misleading. In fact, the band was quite good and gave one heck of a performance. But it seems to me that this “Re-Fueled” project would perhaps be better served and received if it was presented as the all-star, '90s super group that it really is. Heck, had I known that Yogi from Buckcherry was gonna be playing, I’d have paid for a ticket!

-Christopher Long
(May 2010)
________________________________________________________________ 

Additional "Concert Review Flashback" installments:
________________________________________________________________



The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.
 

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Friday, May 25, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW FLASHBACK: Joe Perry (12.02.09)

The Joe Perry Project
The Joe Perry Project
House of Blues / Orlando, FL
12.02.09
 
Although the dreary, rainy
weather was a likely factor
in the minimal turnout, it
couldn’t dampen the mood
of the 300+ who did choose
to brave the storm. Nor did
it extinguish the onstage,
fire created by The Joe
Perry Project and opening
act, Megaphone.
_______________________________________________________________

Orlando’s Megaphone hit the stage promptly at 8PM. My experiences reviewing Central Florida concerts often involve sitting through countless mind-numbing local, regional, and national bottom-feeding warm-up acts with little to offer. However, Megaphone, truly delivered the goods. Bursting with charisma and energy, the band looked great, sounded great, and also offered what most up-and-coming openers lack — great songs. Despite the longtime, hometown buzz surrounding the band, regrettably I’d never seen Megaphone live. Yet I was quickly hooked by such catchy, guitar-driven, power-pop ditties as “My Favorite New Disaster” and “Bad to Good.” I also found myself being physically drawn closer and closer to the stage with every song by the sonic magnetism. And I wasn’t the only one, as Megaphone received a mighty response from the crowd throughout the band's 25 minute set.
  
The house lights once again dropped at 9:10 as members of The Joe Perry Project took the stage. Dressed in a fitted, floor-length black coat, black boots, black pants, black shirt, black vest, and a white scarf draped tightly around his neck, the legendary Aerosmith co-founder made his grand entrance onstage with his typical ultra-cool swagger. And with his trademark snow white streak running through the front of his fabulous, jet black, layered coif, he resembled a modern day rock and roll vampire.

The band kicked off the gutsy, hard-driving set with the title track from Perry’s 1980 debut record, Let the Music Do the Talking.  Selections from his current solo record Have Guitar, Will Travel soon followed, including “We’ve Got a Long Way to Go,” “Do You Wonder,” “Freedom” and a re-make of Fleetwood Mac's, “Somebody’s Gonna Get (Their Head Kicked in Tonight).” But of course Perry is primarily known to his faithful flock for his 35+ year tenure with Aerosmith and his set was packed with such gritty Aerosmith deep cuts as “Get the Lead Out,” “Bright Light Fright,” “Sight for Sore Eyes” and a quirky, reggae version of the classic “Dream On.”

Along with German newcomer Hagen handling most of the lead vocal duties, “The Project” also featured Perry’s longtime cohorts, bassist David Hull and Paul Santo on guitar and organ. Perry’s classic coolness pinned against the combination of Hagen’s youthful vitality and Hull and Santo’s old school vibe made for a band that was both fresh and experienced.

In short, Perry was amazing, the band was spot-on and they kicked ya where it counts!

-Christopher Long
(December 2009)
 
________________________________________________________________

Additional "Concert Review Flashback" installments:
________________________________________________________________
 
 
The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.
 
Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW FLASHBACK: Qeensryche (5.20.09)

Queensryche
QUEENSRYCHE
House of Blues / Orlando, FL 
5.20.09

They’ve sold millions. They’ve
racked up numerous mega
monster hits. They’ve earned 
legions of fans. Their records 
are legendary rock epics. Their
caliber of musicianship is 
unparalleled. But as a live
band, I found Queensryche
to be about as compelling as
an artichoke documentary!
_______________________________________________________________

I realize that I lack the social and artistic sophistication necessary to grasp the group's brilliance. However, the sign posted at the Will Call window tonight announced that the group would be performing “Suites” from the albums, Rage for Order, Empire and American Soldier. “Suites?” Huh?

Suite [sweet]  plural - suites  /  n
- A set of instrumental works performed together.

Oh, I see. Well, why the heck couldn’t they just have said that in the first place? FYI, Motörhead doesn’t perform “Suites!”

Questions: 
A) Shouldn’t a live rock band at least look like they’re having fun? (Queensryche didn’t.) 
B) And if the vibe onstage ain’t even moving the band, what kind of party is the audience having?

I heard an old hippie guy next to me actually yell out, “rock and roll!” as the band came onstage. I hope he wasn’t terribly disappointed to learn that there would be relatively little “rocking,” “rolling” or fun allowed tonight.

Not even a cast of onstage extras and Pink Floyd-type pre-recorded sound effects could bring this show to life. In fact, those “whistles and bells” were actually more of a distraction.

When I go to church I expect to be surrounded by kindhearted, loving Christians. When I DJ in a club I expect to deal with obnoxious drunkenness. However, when I go to a rock show I don’t expect (or desire) to be lectured — about anything — by anybody — not even the legendary Geof Tate. And despite the tie-ins with the group‘s new record, American Soldier, Tate’s long-winded disserta- tions became mind-numbing and, at times, nearly inaudible.

However, Queensryche did “rock” a bit towards the end of the show when they unleashed such early ‘90s favorites as “Another Rainy Night,” “Jet City Woman” and “The Best I Can.” Now, that was a sweet “Suite."

But the good times were short-lived as fans attending the after-show meet-and-greet were instructed by beefy security guys to NOT shake hands with ANY Queensryche members — fist bumps ONLY — as the band feared contracting Swine Flu.

In short, a delightful evening was enjoyed by all!

-Christopher Long
(June 2009)
______________________________________________________________________

Additional "Concert Review Flashback" installments:
________________________________________________________________


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW FLASHBACK: Papa Roach (5.12.09)

Papa Roach
PAPA ROACH 
w/ RED
House of Blues / Orlando, FL
5.12.09 

Nü-metal kingpins RED took the stage at 8:45 and old school, big rock hijinx immediately ensued. Obviously influenced by the arena rock era, Nashville’s hairless hair band delivered a high energy set so full of swagger and Judas Priest-style, cock-rock posturing that even Paul Stanley could have taken a few notes.

Although they were the support act, you wouldn’t have known it by the overwhelming response from their adoring fans. And despite a few front-of-house sound glitches, the crowd remained undeterred, offering non-stop sing-a-longs as the band burst into such signature radio hits as “Breath Into Me” and their latest offering “Death of Me.”

Frontman Michael Barnes boldly led his gang through the 30-minute onslaught as guitarist Jasen Rauch and bassist Randy Armstrong worked the stage, leaping from the drum riser and spinning their guitars as if they were auditioning for a gig in Whitesnake. With hair flying (he’s only member with any) and sticks twirling, drummer Joe Rickard is a non-stop rock and roll showman and could easily be Tommy Lee’s understudy. At the show’s conclusion and with his bandmates crashing and slashing out the big finale, guitarist Anthony Armstrong delivered his last notes “playing” his effects foot-pedal.

My only question this night was, “When did Papa Roach become so cool?”

I remember them first coming on the scene in the early 2000s mimicking the ridiculous late 1990s rap / metal thing and looking more like Limp Bizkit’s road crew and less like a world-class rock act. However, with the release of their latest record, Metamorphosis, the Southern California combo is now a lot more “Dr. Feelgood” and a lot less “Bulls on Parade.” In fact their current chartbuster, “Lifeline” is one of the catchiest ditties to come along in ages.

With Marshall amps stacked to the sky and donned in skinny jeans with trendy comb-overs and shiny “rocker” regalia, Papa Roach took the stage like bona fide, big time rock stars — yes, that’s a good thing.

Although frontman Jacoby Shaddix was quick to apologize to the near-sellout crowd for being sick, he certainly didn’t allow his illness to keep him from delivering an amazing performance.

The 60-plus minute set featured such PR standards as “Scars,” “Getting Away with Murder” and “Last Resort.” It also included such newer earworms as “Lifeline” and “Hollywood Whore,” which Shaddix dedicated to Paris Hilton and “Shitney” Spears.

In short, it was a rock show Nikki Sixx would have been proud of.

-Christopher Long
(May 2009)
 ______________________________________________________________________
 
Additional "Concert Review Flashback" Installments:
_______________________________________________________________________
 
The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.
 
Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.
 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ARTICHOKES: The Naked Truth Revealed!


ARTICHOKES:
The Naked
Truth Revealed!

Last month, I posted an in-depth retrospective overview of my personal favorite records from the 1990s entitled "Back to the '90s - Pt. 1 (Long Live Rock)." I prefaced the feature by clearly articulating my disdain for the era — a period that I refer to as the decade of doom, death, destruction and despair. Yet despite my personal anxieties, I felt that many of my readers would get a kick out of an ongoing '90s flashback-type series. However, my girlfriend Michelle (who actually liked the '90s) thought that it would be an epic fail. Hence, I smelled a challenge. It was a simple wager. Had the initial '90s installment totally blown up, we would have enjoyed several posts throughout the summer regarding the music, books, movies, people and events that made the decade memorable. But if it tanked, I promised readers compelling and riveting exposés  on other such fascinating topics as, oh say, artichokes. 
 
My debut '90s post was not an epic fail. However, it did fall short of "blowing up." As a result, (as promised) after considerable research, I'm proud to present to you, my in-depth, behind-the-scenes, undercover report — ARTICHOKES: The Naked Truth Revealed!
 
Abby-normal
I first discovered the artichoke phenomenon during a recent visit to the produce department of my local Walmart store. I quickly was reminded of Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy, Young Frankenstein. There's a hilarious and iconic scene in the film in which Igor, the bumbling, hunchbacked, bug-eyed assistant is questioned  by Dr. Frankenstein  regarding  a mix-up during a human brain experiment —  a brain that  Frankenstein had  marked as "abnormal." Oddly, submerged in liquid and preserved in jars, the lab brains depicted in this scene actually resembled some of the artichoke options that I spotted on display at Walmart. My interest was piqued

Thanks to Wikipedia, I got the
real lowdown on the artichoke:

Mmm...  yummy!
The globe artichoke is a perennial thistle of the genus Cynara  originating in Southern Europe  around the Mediterranean. It grows to 1.4–2 meters (4.6–6.6 ft) tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery, glaucous-green leaves 50–82 centimeters (20–32 in) long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 centimeters (3.1–5.9 in) diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the "heart"; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the "choke" or beard. These are inedible in older larger flowers.

A medical experiment? No.
These are artichoke hearts.
And apparently you can eat them!
COOKING
In the US, large globe artichokes are most frequently prepared for cooking by removing all but 5–10 millimeters (0.2–0.4 in) or so of the stem, and (optionally) cutting away about a quarter of each scale with scissors. This removes the thorns on some varieties that can interfere with handling the leaves when eating. Then, the artichoke is boiled or steamed until tender. The core of the stem, which tastes like the artichoke heart, is edible once the stem's fibrous exterior has been removed...

TEA
Artichokes can also be made into an herbal tea. It affords some of the qualities of the whole vegetable, acting as a diuretic and improving liver function. Artichoke tea is produced as a commercial product in the Da Lat region of Vietnam.

LIQUER
Artichoke is the primary flavor of the 33-proof (16.5%-alcohol) Italian liqueur Cynar produced exclusively by the Campari Group. It can be served over ice as an aperitif or as a cocktail mixed with orange juice, especially popular in Switzerland. It is also used to make a 'Cin Cyn', a slightly less-bitter version of the Negroni cocktail, by substituting Cynar in place of Campari.
 
Personally, I'm a bigger fan
of their chocolate / peanut
butter combo!
MEDICAL USES
The total antioxidant capacity of artichoke flower heads is one of the highest reported for vegetables. Cynarin, an active chemical constituent in Cynara, causes an increased bile flow. The majority of the cynarin found in artichoke is located in the pulp of the leaves, though dried leaves and stems of artichoke also contain it. It inhibits taste receptors, making water (and other foods and drinks) seem sweet.
 
I hope that everyone has enjoyed this informative, life-changing, up-close and personal look at the artichoke as much as I've enjoyed bringing it to you. COMING SOON TO MY BLOG... OVEN MITTS: Friend or Foe?

-Christopher Long
(May 2012)

 
The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.
 
Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.
 

Friday, May 18, 2012

THE CLASS OF 2012: A Matter of Time


(Photo: Michelle Wilson)

____________________

Back in 1981,
I barely made it
 out of high school
with an honorary
diploma. Tonight,
my son will grad-
uate with honors.

_________________________

 
 
Me and Jesse in 1999.
August 1999  — it literally seems like yesterday. I took my five-year-old son, Jesse, by the hand and walked him to his classroom. It was his first day of kindergarten.
 
Before long, I began receiving  (almost) daily  phone calls from Jesse's teacher at Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Palm Bay, Florida. She quickly was reaching her wit's end. "Oh Mr. Long," she'd frantically cry, "I just don't know how to deal with your son — he's out of control!" But Jesse soon settled down, settled in, and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there.

I remember loading my entire DJ rig into Jesse's classroom on "Career Day" and showing his classmates how to "rock the club." I even let them take turns giving "shout outs" on the mic. I enjoyed participating in Jesse's school-rated activities. But, I will admit that there were a few times when I fabricated a "family emergency" in order to bust him out of class early so that we could go to the movies or whatever. Those were great times. I remember thinking how those days would last forever. Yet in a flash, they were over.

Jesse in 2006  before he
became too cool to smile!
(Photo: Kevin Roberts)
Before I knew it, Jesse was entering junior high. Given his increasingly impressive grades, he was chosen to attend West Shore Junior/Senior High in Melbourne, Florida. With a focus on academic excellence, West Shore offers an ideal environment for young brainiacs. And with a zero tolerance for foolishness, it is the school of choice for parents who, like me, were horrified by the notion of our kids attending Jr./Sr. High in a "zoo."

At first, Jesse was overwhelmed by the high standards set at West Shore. I remember his first day of seventh grade in 2006. I was in Pittsburgh, on tour, working for a well-known rock band. I became especially  heartbroken over not being in town for him when he called me that night, clearly freaking out. I told Jesse that he was the smartest kid at the school. I further encouraged him to take a deep breath and just relax. "It's okay," I reassured him. "You're going to grow up and rule the world."
 
Jesse's first gig was at a
West Shore talent show
in 2009.
As with his elementary school experience, after a bit of a bumpy start, Jesse settled into West Shore and quickly began to excel. I drove him to school and picked him up several days a week, navigating through the daily gridlock traffic in the school's car loop as well as experiencing a few run-ins with crossing guards and on-campus policemen. But those days were also wonderful and I knew that somehow, life would remain forever at a standstill. But that simply was not to be. In the blink of an eye, my son was driving, dating, and playing drums in his own band. And it was becoming abundantly clear that he no longer needed his daddy to walk him to class—  those days were gone — forever.

While remaining diligent in maintaining a near-perfect GPA, Jesse quickly became all too familiar with the pitfalls of being in a band. He soon began focusing on songwriting and recording. And as part of his Senior project, he wrote and recorded the aptly titled,  "A Matter of Time." It was selected as the official 2012 West Shore class song.

From the 2012 West Shore yearbook.

My son, Jesse, brokering
a power deal in 2012.
 Another impressive stat  is, as an overachiever, Jesse enrolled in an early admittance program. In short, he's been doing high school and college simultaneously for the last two school years. He's currently (already) just a few credits shy of earning his AA degree from Brevard Community College. And by the end of next semester, he will likely transfer to the University of Central Florida in Orlando — majoring in Psychology.

In a recent Facebook post, Jesse commented that tonight would be "the saddest night" of his life, as he and his close circle of high school friends will all be moving on — tackling the challenges and enjoying the rewards of adult life.

I thought this day would never come. I thought that somehow, Jesse would remain my "little guy" forever. I wouldn't suggest to Jesse that this is a "sad" day, however, I will admit that it certainly is bittersweet. But that's how life works — we're continually moving forward. As a brilliant songwriter so eloquently put it, "It's a matter of time."

Jesse Long: Class of 2012!
In my life, I've been somewhat of a "dish rag." I've made missteps, too numerous (and stupid) to count. In fact, as I've pointed out, 30+ years ago, I barely made it out of high school with an honorary diploma. My son, however — well that's an entirely different story. Jesse excels at everything. He gets it  ALL right. Despite my gushing here, I have difficulty articulating precisely just how proud I am of him and what a blessing, honor and privilege it's been to be his dad. He's been my best pal. And as I told him after his traumatic first day at West Shore back in 2006, I still expect him someday to rule the world.

So, to Jesse Long and the entire West Shore Class of 2012 (Logan Moletteire included) — this is YOUR night to celebrate —  you've earned it. Now go out and have fun, be bold and as always, make smart choices!

-Christopher Long
(May 2012)

 
The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.
 
Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.
 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

THE POLITICAL "SHELL GAME" 2012

I'm the horrible, uptight right-winger
you've been warned about!
(Photo: Kevin Roberts)
THE POLITICAL
"SHELL GAME" 2012 
  
Despite the current volatile 
state of our nation's political landscape, the tempo of my 
related content remains 
lighthearted and positive
Yet, I'm frequently under 
fire. In fact, my dismissal 
from one particular publi-
cation was demanded recently 
by a reader who became out-
raged by my words simply 
because of the "R" associ-
ated with my name. 
_________________________________________________________________________________

But the truth is, I don't and I won't engage in mean-spirited banter or malicious personal attacks — on anyone. As I've conveyed previously, I believe that it is absolutely imperative for ALL AMERICANS to come together in the spirit of kindness, love and compassion. But that seems to be a less than popular position these days. This is especially troubling because we're in the midst of a crucial election season, yet we're seemingly more focused on condemning than connecting. And to make matters worse, Americans are being distracted from what should be the real issues of this campaign by less pressing issues and outright foolishness being "reported" by various "news" outlets. In short, we're becoming gullible victims of a political "shell game."

Mitt Romney really does
have truly awesome hair!
With a nationwide unemployment rate hovering around 9%, a major issue of this campaign should be who has the most viable plan to put Americans back to work. And I for one am much more concerned about national defense and securing our borders than gobbledygook about Barack Obama's citizenship and whether or not Mitt Romney once pushed a classmate — in 1965. Americans (including several friends of mine) are losing their homes — and be sure, there IS plenty of political blame to go around for that heartbreaking mess. The focus should be on the economy — not what Hollywood celeb was at the White House, what kind of light bulbs we're using or how awesome Romney's hair is. We must focus on real issues — who's gonna show Reagan-like chutzpa on the international stage and who's merely going to cower around the world, apologizing for us?

I've included this
pic of my fiance',
Ann Coulter, just
because I love my
little pookie bear!
Hey, since when did a candidate's ability to "relate" to us poor dis- enfranchised people become a prerequisite to being president? If I remember correctly, the Kennedy's were made of mad cash — and they've  ALL had "D"s next to their names! So, exactly when did wealth and success become a source of embarrassment in this country? I thought we were supposed to go out and achieve the "American Dream." (FYI, failure and poverty ain't the "American Dream.")

Now, if you truly believe that Obama is the man with the plan and that his first term totally kicked ass, well brothers and sisters, I won't condemn or insult you and I won't call you names. In fact, I encourage you to vote for him. I may not agree, but God bless you — I respect your choice. On the other hand, if you believe that Romney has a better plan and a better vision for our country, then, well you get the idea! My point is simply that we must put blind, mean-spirited partisan nonsense aside and make our decisions based on the candidates' respective records and their positions on the key issues.

Of course there are certainly many other hot-button issues of per- sonal importance to many folks on both sides of the political fence. And I don't make light of those interests and concerns. But as they say, the only way to eat a pink 8,000 pound elephant is one bite at a time. For now, let's prioritize and focus on the big stuff. There will be plenty of time later to squabble over other things.

-Christopher Long
(May 2012)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.
Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.

Monday, May 7, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW: Elvis Costello (4.23.12)

Photo: Chad Batka
ELVIS COSTELLO
AND THE IMPOSTERS
King Center / Melbourne, FL 
(April 23, 2012)

With its gigantic, colorful game show-type ferris wheel, go-go cage, TV screens and other eye-catching frippery, the stage appeared to be set for a raucous performance by Mötley Crüe, or perhaps the Ringling Brothers were in town. No, despite the scantily-clad, onstage  show girls and the overall carnival-like atmosphere, this wasn’t a hair band revival or circus event. This was a live concert performance from pop music icon, Elvis Costello and his band, The Imposters.
 
Donning suits, ties and hats, the dapper-looking four-piece ensemble (featuring longtime keyboardist Steve "Nieve" Nason and drummer Pete Thomas) took the stage at 7:45pm. The show kicked off with a fistful of high-energy ditties that included such early Costello staples as, “Mystery Dance,” from his 1977 debut My Aim is True and "Radio Radio" from 1978's This Year's Model. Although a simple tribute to his edgy, new wave glory days of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s would have sufficed for some, Costello is one of the most prolific singer/songwriters of the last thirty-plus years. And with dozens of albums to his credit, and more than 1,000 fans of all ages in attendance, this two-hour musical onslaught offered a balanced representation of his impeccable body of work.
 
Assuming a carnival barker-like persona, Costello proved to be a charming and charismatic host. With the aid of his lovely, hard-body, female assistant, the fifty-seven-year-old musician invited various members from the audience onto the stage to spin the enormous "Wheel of Fortune" that featured specific classic Costello song titles as well as general themes — creating the perception of fan interaction while providing the band with a bit of artistic wiggle room. "The wheel possesses the power of love," Costello announced. (It offers) "songs about love, songs about death, but not necessarily in that order."
 
Upon taking their turn at the wheel, "contestants" were encouraged to remain onstage for a song or two, and dance or just hang out and enjoy a complimentary beverage at the onstage bar. Although the rather original concept quickly became more distracting than entertaining, it did make for a few unique moments as Costello offered an impromptu Neil Diamond impersonation — bursting into a brief a capella rendition of Diamond's 1980 hit, "America."
 
But Costello is endeared to his fans as a brilliant singer, songwriter and musician — not as a Pat Sajak-type personality. In that regard, he connected best when stripped of production trappings — walking into the audience (even making his way up to the balcony) and personally serenading his adoring, faithful flock.

The Very Best of Elvis Costello
Along the way, Costello took fans on a  decades' long musical journey — serving up much-loved favorites such as "Alibi," "Everyday I Write the Book," "Alison," "Almost Blue," "Watching the Detectives," and the Paul McCartney-penned, "So Like Candy."
 
Oddly, the highlight of the evening was during the encore when Costello delivered a dynamic mini-set of acoustic numbers featuring "A Slow Drag with Josephine" and "Church Underground" — a pair from his most recent record, National Ransom. Totally stripped down, Costello presented himself in the most vulnerable context  — one man, with one guitar — and for a moment, completely off mic! Literally bringing the King Center audience to a dead silence,  it  made for  a chillingly honest, pure and personal connection.
 
Ending with the same high-energy, kick in the pants intensity as it began, Costello and crew wrapped up the show with blistering renditions of his 1978 fan fave, "Pump it Up" and his Nick Lowe-penned signature classic, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding."
 
The concert proved to be both enjoyable and memorable. And as always, the beautiful King Center venue and cracker jack staff only further enhanced the experience.

-Christopher Long
(May 2012)
 

The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.
 
Also from Christopher Long...
Get it on Amazon.