To say my love of music was enlightened last week would be a massive understatement. I saw three amazing shows, in two different venues, culminating with Saturday night’s historic Elvis Costello show at the Saenger Theater. The Dandy Warhols and Psychedelic Furs each played packed and rewarding shows at Tipitina’s.
The Dandy Warhols last played New Orleans less than a year ago, at the Joy Theater. One could have easily expected a carbon copy of that show, but fortunately, the band released a new album this year. Distortland is the band’s latest effort and did have a bit more time logged in for the set. The great thing about the new material is how well it mixes with the older stuff. The set was pretty straight forward and fun. It just takes a bit to get use to the fact that lead singer Courtney Taylor prefers not to be center stage but in a pocket, away from the crowd. The crowd was receptive the whole night and as expected did get a bit rowdier when the hits were played.
Next up for me was the Psychedelic Furs. This was my third time seeing them and first to officially shoot. Of the three times I’ve seen them, this is by far my favorite. The set couldn’t have been any more perfect and hearing “House” for the first time live was the icing on the cake, the frosting being New Orleans cellist Helen Gillet joining the band on two songs “Presidential Gas” and “Until She Comes.” To continue the baking metaphor, My Jerusalem had the oven duties of warming the crowd up. The band released A Little Death this year and the set was stacked with those tracks. The album is dark and has a great post-punk feel, no doubt somewhat influenced by their time on the road with Peter Murphy. They will be playing the House of Blues in December supporting The Sounds.
The weekend ended with what was by far one of the best ‘SOLO’ shows I’ve seen in a long time. Detour (i.e. the tour), is Elvis Costello’s latest endeavor. He brought along with him the Nashville duo, Larkin Poe, as support, both opening and later on in the set. Elvis’ long relationship with New Orleans was very self-evident from the beginning of his show and throughout. His stories about the city and meanings of other songs were personable and came off as a campfire chat. Throughout his years recording in New Orleans and playing, he couldn’t help be engrossed by the city. His love as such came to the surface when the Preservation Hall Jazz band came out to play with him on “Sulphur to Sugarcane” and continued to grow through the end of his performance when the band came back for the last number “(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” The evening was chalked up with so many surprises. It was almost overwhelming. When he went ‘off mic’ to play “Alison,” you could virtually hear a pin drop in the theater. The crowd singer contract was entirely in contact throughout the evening, only a few outbursts here and there to break the silences. “I Want You” was by far my evenings highlight less the obvious Preservation Hall shout outs. His guitar playing during “I Want You” was haunting and beautiful, all wrapped up into one. Here’s to a full band set next time, but if not, I’d still run back to see him again.