Sunday, July 24, 2011

Concerts As Different as Night and Day: The Black Keys and Elvis Costello

One thing I love about living in the Twin Cities is the incredibly diverse musical acts and bands that come through Minneapolis and St. Paul. Case in point . . . two other concerts I attended nearly back-to-back this summer: the alternative band out of Akron, Ohio The Black Keys and the eclectic Elvis Costello.

The Black Keys: Live On Stage
The Black Keys

On a hot July night, I dragged a friend along with me to see The Black Keys at the Roy Wilkins Arena in St. Paul. Just the venue sight should have given me a clue about this band and the warm-up band Cage the Elephant. We went out for wine and appetizers before the concert which proved to be our civilized start to a wild musical evening. As we walked over to the Wilkens, we noticed more and more kids decked out in ripped jeans and leather, sporting multiple tattoos and piercings all over their body. We wondered if they could possibly be going to the same show as us. They were. Talk about an incredibly diverse crowd. Punkers with mohawks, middle-aged yuppies, gothic teens decked out in black, college kids, and a few women of a certain age like us. However, watching the crowd in no way prepared us for Cage the Elephant.


Lucky for us, we had missed most of this opening act. My poor friend Leslee was probably wondering what I had talked her into! It was like walking into a black sound tunnel with a cacophony of loud electronic noises and screaming vocals bouncing off of the walls and reverberating inside my skull. By the time we found our seats in the dark arena, we were treated to a couple of clearly headbanging tunes by Cage the Elephant. Loud doesn't even begin to describe the sound. At the end of the set, the lead singer finished off by jumping backward into the crowd and surfing around on the outstretched arms of the fans. I'd never seen or heard anything quite like Cage the Elephant


Everlasting Light
The Black Keys were quite different and down-right refined in comparison to the Elephant. This crowd clearly loved The Black Keys and most were on their feet for the entire show. This bluesy duo started off with their older favorites then launched into their most recent album Brothers, adding a couple more musicians to back them up. Everlasting Light featured a massive strobe light that pierced the darkness and Howlin' For You drove the crowd wild! The Black Keys play an intense show, and I really was most impressed with drummer, Patrick Carney, and guitarist, Dan Auerbach. The gave it everything and put on a spectacular show!


For more about The Black Keys July 3rd show in St. Paul, take a look at this link:
http://blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise/2011/07/the_black_keys_roy_wilkins_review.php



Elvis Costello: An Icon For the Ages

Let me start off by saying that no one except Elvis Costello can carry off wearing a shiny gold jacket and a fake leopard fur hat with his large black-framed glasses of course! As you can imagine, this crowd was quite a bit different than those attending The Black Keys concert. Still diverse but I felt much younger at this show.

Elvis Costello's Big Spinning Wheel
On the way to the State Theater in downtown Minneapolis (the venue for Elvis Costello), I was trying to remember how many times I'd seen him perform live. I think it was four times with the best show being at an outdoor amphitheater in Dallas, Texas back in 1994. This fifth show was still pretty good, but a bit long. I guess when you're Elvis Costello and you have a ton of songs stretching from the 1970s to 2011 you can play a long gig. Also if you're Elvis Costello, you can create a huge spinning wheel with songs and song themes written on it. Members of the audience were invited up to give it a spin, have a glass of champagne on stage while Elvis crooned, and could even take a turn dancing in the cage. This made for a somewhat comical and interesting show as you never really knew what would happen next.

He played a lot of unconventional old songs and just a bunch of long songs that he really liked to play. I particularly loved his bluesy version of Pump It Up as well as Veronica. You had to stay well into the second hour to hear all of the favorites. As I fan, I got my money's worth for the show and spectacle all wrapped up in Elvis Costello.
For an additional review on the June 29th Elvis Costello show and his set list for the show:
http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/music/124750933.html
http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/blogs/124763323.html

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