Last Friday I received an e-mail from the Elvis Costello fan site (which I hadn't even remembered joining). It said that the first 50 people to reply would receive 2 free passes to the taping of the final episode of Season Two of Spectacle with Elvis Costello. Well, who could resist an offer like that? Especially since it was going to take place in Toronto! I replied within 3 minutes, and waited. Later that night I received another message. It said !!CONGRATULATIONS!! You've won! and laid out the rules for picking up tickets. Monday my wife and I headed out early to find parking and a place to have dinner. Parking, no problem, right across the street and only $15. Dinner, two blocks down at le Pain Quotidien, zucchini soup, fresh bread, and smoked salmon salad. Good coffee too! It began to rain, a steady drizzle. We arrived at the Masonic Hall on Yonge Street at about 6:15, a lineup had begun. At 6:30 they checked our photo ID and gave us wristbands. Then they checked our coats, searched my wife's purse, and showed us to our seats. The theatre is beautiful, very art deco. The set featured chandeliers, a 1000 lightbulbs showing the Spectacle logo behind a drum kit, and amps and guitars. We sat in the front row. The front three rows were reserved for the Fan Club winners! Here's someone who knows how to treat his fans.
The place was alive with a buzz. "Who's the guest?" "I hear it's Paul McCartney!" "It's McCartney for sure! I got the word!" People from as far away as Rhode Island were there.
It was 8:00 before the show began, and the air conditioning was blowing on us all the time. "Oh, it'll get hot in here once the lights go on!" But it never got that hot, by the end we were frozen (more of that later).
Elvis came out, followed by The Imposters, did his usual Spectacle rap, picked up his Fender Jaguar and launched into "Accidents Will Happen". It was fantastic. After another tune ("Chelsea") he explained that Elton John was to have been the interviewer and he, Elvis, was the guest tonight. Elton was sick (as the newspapers had told us all weekend) so they looked for a "rock journalist" do perform the task of raking Elvis over the coals. Since they couldn't find a presentable rock journalist...they got Mary Louise Parker (she of Fried Green Tomatoes fame). She came out dressed in black. She looked very slim, and quite lovely, although her interviewing techniques were adequate at best. It was clear that she was a bigger fan, more in awe of her idol than most of the rest of us in attendance. When she closed her eyes and swayed to Elvis's crooning, I thought she might fall off the chair! Nevertheless Elvis was charming and forthcoming with information about how he wrote and recorded, and his life in general. Marriage and fatherhood has agreed with him, and not drinking!
For over 2 hours he shared stories, and songs, some solo on acoustic guitart, others backed by Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas and Davey Faragher. I saw Elvis on his first tour of North America. He played about 14 songs and was done in 35 minutes start to finish! Wow! He explained that the Attractions were using "speed up drugs" and that later when he listened to My Aim Is True to relearn it for a tour, he "couldn't believe how slow the songs were"!
He spoke about writing with McCartney, Bacharach and trying to co-write with Sammy Cahn (it didn't work out) and played songs from each era. "Almost Blue," "Brilliant Mistake," "So Like Candy," "I Still Have That Other Girl," "Bedlam," "I Hope You're Happy Now," all done beautifully whether accompanied by himself on the Gibson, or with the band.
After the show, he came out to re-take the first two songs. "Accidents..." and "...Chelsea". Then he sang a couple more, a couple after that, and more, giving us a 40 minute concert to end the night. At 11:00 he said "Goodnight" and bowed, and walked off. It was tremendous. The audience had been standing through the final few songs. It was rock'n'roll!
On the way out everyone received a copy of the new CD. It was a night to remember. And I can't wait to watch Season Two.