Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Music Live!

Here's an excerpt from an article titled "Myths Busted at SXSW!" that was in a recent issue of Sound and Vision magazine. SXSW (South by Southwest) is a huge music festival that they have here in Austin each year.

This is a quote from Elvis Costello:
"It's not about records. Records are just souvenirs. It's about playing. Live work is where it's at--and it's always different. The shape of the venue, the songs you choose to play, how your voice is that night, how much the audience gets involved--it's every one of those things. That you can't capture."

Well, he can't capture it, anyway, because Elvis Costello is absolutely horrific live. We have at least ten of his albums, probably more, but we've never gone to see him live because every review I've ever seen of his live show said that it was absolutely flat. A few year ago we got brave and went to see him at a small local venue. "His records are so excellent, how bad could he be live?" we thought.

Answer: pretty damned bad.

I've seen probably fifty live acts over the years, and he was the worst. His voice, which is already fragile and barely on-key even on his albums, sounded like a bagful of cats on the way to the river. And the tight, driving complexity of the music was absolutely butchered by the band, or maybe he was so off-rhythm that they couldn't salvage the songs.

So if you want to go see him live, and you're thinking "But he's a genius--how bad could he be?" don't say I didn't warn you.

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