Elvis Costello and Blondie at the Concord Pavilion

I went into the record store and found a Russian CD with the “Get Back” album on it.  I bought it, another Beatles CD, and a Curtis Mayfield album, and then I headed for the BART station.  I hardly ever go out towards Concord, and I was a bit surprised that the train was so full, at least until we got to Walnut Creek.  I arrived at the Concord station at about five o’clock, and I searched for a bus that would take me to the Concord Pavilion, but the place was confusing.  I asked the person in the information booth, who pointed me to a black bus, and I barely caught it.  It was a fairly long ride out there, but the ride took us right to the entrance, and in a few minutes, they opened the gates.  We had to walk up a hill, and when I got to my seat, it was 5:45.  I was behind the inner bowl.  It had, of course, a better view than on the lawn, and it was better than sitting on the concrete at the Greek Theatre.  The negative was the time it took to get to this place.  One thing I didn’t see was a merchandise table.  I would see some people with Blondie and Elvis Costello t-shirts, but not many.  I didn’t see many children at this concert.  One man who was selling lemonade and kettle corn was frustrated with the apparently cheap crowd, and he stumbled and spilled some of his lemonade onto the ground.  I heard one fan say that Styx was tremendous, but REO Speedwagon was a disappointment.  Blondie took the stage at about 7:15, starting with “One Way or Another.”  Deborah Harry’s voice sounded fine, although her outfit looked baggy, and she had a bad habit of putting her hands behind her back to make her look like she had no hands.  She joked that Concord was the name of an airplane.  The four people sitting in front of me wouldn’t stop talking, so I had to wonder how they could claim that they liked music when they could never shut up and listen to it.  Blondie’s set went on at a good pace, as it included “Call Me,” “Sunday Girl,” “Rapture,” “The Tide is High,” and “Heart of Glass.”  For the encores, they performance the James Bond song “From Russia With Love,” displaying a presidential seal for a bit of political humor, and the wrapped things up with “Dreaming.”  They received strong applause.  The break to reset the stage took about half an hour, and Elvis Costello came out just before 9:15.  He began with “Pump It Up.”  His two backup singers, Kitten Kuroi and Brianna Lee, sounded good and added a lot to the songs.  Some of the changes reminded me of what Bob Dylan’s “At Budokan” album.  The song selection could have been rethought, as I didn’t know what the point of doing “Clubland” was.  Elvis’ singing sounded rushed, and some of the noisy parts turned some songs like “Accidents Will Happen” into a bit of a mess.  The talking between rambled on for too long.  “Green Shirt” sounded very good. The green shirt in the song could have been a military uniform, and the color could have been symbolic of envy.  “Unwanted Number” mentioned various songs with a number in the title, such as Harry Nilsson’s “One” through “When I’m 64,” although I didn’t find this especially clever or amusing.  “Beyond Belief” is one of the songs that shows Elvis’ songwriting skills and creativity from his great period from 1977 to 1982.  “Watching the Detectives” made me think back to Elvis’ appearance on Saturday Night Live back in 1977, and it was one of the best numbers of the set.  Some people began to leave during “This Year’s Girl.”  “Less Than Zero” seemed like a long time ago.  I’ve heard “Mystery Dance” done better and thought some of the changes weren’t for the best.  Some songs, hostile towards women, sounded old.  The band went through “Radio, Radio,” which sounded outdated because people don’t listen to the radio anymore.  I wouldn’t call “High Fidelity” a great song, but Kitten and Brianna were giving some strong singing support in these last songs.  Their dancing contrasted with Elvis’ stationary stance.  “Alison” was another example of Elvis’ classic songwriting.  They ended with “Everyday I Write the Book,” and an up note with “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” which was almost inspiring.  I believe the last time I saw Elvis Costello was in 1986, when he was closer to his peak.  This Elvis was not as consistent, but he showed the audience some of his great songs, and I had to respect him for not treating his songs the same old way and trying new things.  Bruce Thomas hasn’t played with the band since 1996.  Otherwise, the Attractions were still around.  Blondie got the stronger response.  I think Elvis can be too challenging for some of the audience.  The set lost momentum at a few points.  I had to be satisfied with the amount of music I got, as it was nearly eleven o’clock at the end.  I rushed back to the bus shuttle stop, and fortunately, I was near the front of the line.  They could have used at least one more bus to get us back to BART in good time.  I was able to catch a train in my direction at 11:39.  By the time I got to the Rockridge station, it was just about midnight, and I had to walk the rest of the way home, a bit annoying because I have to go to work this morning.  The Outside Lands music festival starts today.  Their lineup didn’t interest me that much.  I’m not sure that I wanted to pay a lot of money just to see Paul Simon one more time.  Some of the people who died on August 9 include Hieronymus Bosch (1516), Hermann Hesse (1962), Joe Orton (1967), Dmitri Shostakovich (1975), Jerry Garcia (1995), Gregory Hines (2003), Judith Rossner (2005), Bernie Mac (2008), and Mel Stuart (2012).  Today is a birthday for Amanda Bearse (61), Melanie Griffith (62), and Sam Elliott (75).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for August 9, concert officials at the Sunbury Jazz and Blues Festival in England in 1967 asked Jerry Lee Lewis to leave the stage because the crowd had gotten too wild.  In 1969, Sharon Tate and four other people were found murdered in Los Angeles.

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