Donnelly: Elvis Costello at the Crossroads, June 30, 2011

When you’re an iconic performer that blurs lines between generations as well as genres – not to mention one that has played everywhere with everyone – it’s understandable that it might be hard to get pumped up for an outdoor show in a scorching mulch pit in Middle America.

Indeed, I wondered aloud to a couple hardcore Elvis fans about the choice of venue. 

Doesn’t Starlight seem more appropriate for this Boomer God?  A few years ago that’s where Elvis Costello and his band went when they came through KC.  So my assumption is his draw isn’t quite as strong anymore… 

That said, the Crossroads was pretty packed and near capacity on Thursday night, and the crowd was looking a little gilf-y.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  But certainly the odd twenty-something thrown in the mix was the exception.

Just before the band (complete with go-go dancers in tow) took the stage, Grinder’s main wildman Stretch took the stage to hype the crowd up and pimp his venue.

"Parking is always free, so never pay those guys out there for parking!" yelled Stretch, taking a job at the entrepreneurial folks across the street selling $10 spots.  "And if someone beside you falls down during the show, pour a cold cocktail on them!"

Yes, the mood was set as Elvis and the Imposters emerged onstage, the man himself looking hot, hot, hot in a full black suit and trademark funny hat.  But the heat didn’t seem to bother the dapper gentleman as he immediately launched into the set with little to no banter, starting with "I Hope You’re Happy Now," and hitting "Uncomplicated" into "Radio Radio" just a few songs later. 

Initially, there were a few sound issues as the engineers tweaked the knobs and dialed it in, but by the start of the second song everything was good.  And the crowd was mostly subdued until "Radio Radio," which noticeably elevated the energy.     

Then, the huge spinning songbook came into play.  First up, a cute young redhead was pulled onstage to give it a whirl and play her part in selecting the next song to be performed.

A few songs later one of Costello’s classics came up on the giant wheel, "(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding."  The band rollicked through the favorite, normally reserved for encores, with an energy that never betrayed the millions of times they’ve played this one.  Keyboardist Steve Nieve arguably stole the show with his tasteful plinking and multi-instrumental talents. 

I said "arguably" because it’s really hard to upstage Elvis, the consummate showman.  Throughout the night his vocals never wavered, as some aging singers’ do.  He hit all the notes with strength and never seemed to be reaching – not once. 

He kept the mood light with quip after quip as he invited lucky fans to come spin the wheel.  Though I must admit that at times I wondered if this show would soon be heading down the road to Branson – free dinner buffet with a ticket to the early one! – particularly when, in an effort at self deprecation, Elvis joked, "This was written before Al Gore invented the Internet!" 

So fresh, Elvis, so fresh. 

As the night meandered to its end, the band kept up its pace with decent versions of "(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea" and "I Want You," before ending the first encore with the trademark "Alison" but segueing it into a surprisingly cool version of Prince’s "Purple Rain." 

Unfortunately (for them), a decent number of people starting milling toward the exits somewhere around "Almost Blue," so they missed a few of the highlights in my opinion.

I mean, can you really leave an Elvis Costello concert before you hear him play "Alison?"

No, you cannot.

By the time Elvis decided that everyone had had enough, I had a couple thoughts running through my mind.  First, I got to see a LEGEND.  A real one of a kind performer who still obviously takes joy from getting out and feeling the crowd reaction, a real showman. 

Second, I wish I could have seen this show at a more intimate venue, with Elvis sitting on a stool and all the angles set up perfectly for all the acoustics and everything.  With so many subtleties in Costello’s songs it seems that some of that was lost in the muggy night air of the Crossroads.
           

 

 

Setlist:

 I Hope You’re Happy Now; Heart of the City; Mystery Dance; Uncomplicated > Radio Radio; Talking in the Dark; Clubland; (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding; Earthbound; Human Hands; Watching the Detectives; (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea; Almost Blue; Shabby Doll; I Want You.

Encore 1: Brilliant Mistake; Pump It Up; Alison > Purple Rain.

Encore 2: Sulfur to Sugarcane; The Crooked Line; The Scarlet Tide.

***All photos by Katie Grogan***

 

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23 Responses to Donnelly: Elvis Costello at the Crossroads, June 30, 2011

  1. kcfred says:

    turd bowl
    We should be ashamed to have someone of Elvis’ stature play in a shit hole like that. Kinckleheads busy? Midland? Uptown anywhere? He had sweat rolling down the sleeves of his shirt. God, what a shit hole.

  2. smartman says:

    Corrections
    Matthew, change wildman to douchebag and mulchpit to shit-hole and you have written the perfect review.

    Modern technology does allow for the ability to offer some “cooling” onstage. It’s not that expensive but Brett and Stretch are too fucking cheap to provide it.

    Grinders has the potential to be a GREAT venue with a few improvements. Brett and Stretch aren’t just milking it, they’re trying to make cheese out of the milk.

    Lot’s of talk about doing it for the music and for the fans, blah, blah, blah. Actions speak louder than words.

  3. newbaum turk says:

    Grinders
    Grinders may as well be in the P&L. And I’m not talking about the crowd. I’m talking about the prices and what Stretch along with his partners are doing to the place. I paid $9 for two 10 ounce Wheats a few weeks ago. The place has changed in every way for the worse. The wine is all box wine now. They have been approached about franchising and are acting like corporate douches. They micro manage the shit out of the place but ignore the important stuff. Listen to people who know: To know Stretch is to hate Stretch. Even all the other artists can’t stand him.

  4. St Louis says:

    Kansas City is shithole when….
    The next night Elvis played in St Louis at the Pageant and he kind of chuckled and made fun of Kansas City and what a 2nd rate city it is. That sting man. Crossroadskc is a disgrace upon all of Kansas City. It reflects poorly upon all of Kansas City and every citizen here looks worse because of that shithole. Nothing worse thna making a tlant like Elvis sweat his ass off in playing a shit hole that still uses porta potties as rest rooms.

    Kansas City, you should be ashamed that you support crossroadskc, it is disgraceful. Hang your heads for you have NOTHING to be proud of whne a big time artist looks out at you in your pig pen, standing on mulch, laughing at each and every one of you, as the promoter wlks away with $70,000 profit from one show, more thna enough money to fix that place up, but why should he whne you idiots keep going there.

    Kansas City is a shithole when viewed from the stage at crossroadskc.

  5. Hearne says:

    Tough crowd
    There’s something wrong with being able to go to a hip downtown venue and see cool bands on a sultry summer nights? Bands that otherwise might not have played Kansas City.

    Crossroads is a far better venue than the River Market. And it’s better than being jammed into a sweltering indoor venue with poor sight lines.

    The bottom line is Elvis CHOSE to play Crossroads. Not because his management was unfamiliar with the venue – not after four years. He played a smaller indoor venue in St. Louis. Fact is, Starlight seats 7,000-plus and that’s just too big for his current fan base.

    When you play outdoors in the summer, it gets hot. Like that’s some kind of surprise.

  6. kcfred says:

    “hip downtown venue”
    Sorry Hearne, that’s no hip downtown venue. It’s a shit hole. And something that, as a “major stop” along a tour we should be ashamed of. Maybe Elvis didn’t excactly know what he was getting into. I saw the show at the Pageant in St. Louis the following night. Now, THAT’s a hip venue. And he was not happy from the stage about his KC venue. While I was thrilled I got to see him again, this really got me thinking about why in the hell this city continues to lose tours and stops to St. Louis. Take one look at the Fox in St. Louis, The Pageant and the newly designed Kiel Opera House. Absolutely first rate venues. We have Crossroads. Game. set. match.

  7. typo king says:

    Maybe it is time to move away from my beloved Kansas City
    “”When you play outdoors in the summer, it gets hot. Like that’s some kind of surprise.””

    Really? ….really you are defening this dump? Did you go to this show?
    For that matter, how many shows DO YOU ACTUALLY PAY, to attend at this (hip) shithole?

    Kansas City has many REAL venues suitable for this size show… e.g. Midland, Uptown or Voodoo Lounge. All 3 are properly equipped with modern plumbing, toilets, running water, walls, roof and HV/AC, but somehow this maggot promoter keeps stealing shows away from real venues

    I usually understand someone selling ads defending an advertiser, but when it is done at the expense of the city as a whole, it is very sad. The maggots who run the crossroadskc are simply pulling a money grab. Tickets for this show were $40.00 -$90.00 and drinks were are pricey as the ball park. They earn plenty of money to fix up thier shithole, but instead they pocket the money….. it is just like the Chiefs pocketing league revenue sharing money while not spending up to their full salary cap….. or the Royal pocketing the money we get from the Yankees et al exceeding team payroll guidlelines. it has become commonplace to accept shit here in Kansas City, like the KC School district not getting its act together…… IT SEEMS NO ONE IN KC IN MINDING THE STORE…. while KC citizens put up with lossing teams, poors schools and shitty places for concerts….. What a joke this town has become….. Tell me where I am wrong, and i will admit…. But since the days of Carolyn Coe playing BS games to councilman Herndez taking bribes to OK a stinky dump…this town stinks….

    I have always loved my home town, but maybe it is time to move on, move to a real city, a city that cares about improving itself versus just existing

  8. PB says:

    Yikes!
    Can’t even escape the Dump Troll here.

  9. RickM says:

    outta line
    As an Elvis fan since My Aim is True, I still can’t help but feel it a bit unprofessional to talk crap on a town you just played (and took money from) in front of fans in a nearby quasi-rival town. Especially if said performer is – to say the least – not from the area. What’s to keep him from doing the same with St. Louis at the next stop, say Chicago.

  10. bschloz says:

    Music At The Grinders
    You went to see a concert at Grinders…. Hello?…everyone knew what they were getting into except Elvis I guess.
    One of my boys went saw Humphrey Mcgee over the weekend….no complaints…he’s 19 of course.

  11. St Louis says:

    KC = FAIL
    “”What’s to keep him from doing the same with St. Louis at the next stop, say Chicago””

    For starters, he played the Pageant not a horse corral (i.e. crossroadskc). The Pageant is a real venue, with air conditioning etc. Plus the fact that in real towns guys like Eddie Vedder show up as guests. Kansas City is a failing city with no pride in istself. KC deserves what it gets for have in no self esteem.

  12. RickM says:

    No Sale
    If this were EC’s first U.S. tour and first stop in KC, I could maybe be persuaded to understand the resentment – maybe. But he’s a seasoned tour vet who knows what it’s like in the Heartland in July. Plus, he’s played here many times before and is fully aware that there are “real” venues in KC. He’s played them.

    When Lucinda Williams played at Crossroads earlier this season it rained during her performance. Think she bitched about it at the next show? Not bloody likely ‘cuz she’s also a seasoned tour vet who knows that these things happen.

    Don’t know what Eddie Vedder has to do with any of this, but several years ago he did make a surprise appearance at the Bottleneck during a Mike Watt show. Guess that makes Lawrence a “realer” town than KC.

  13. Bob Hayes says:

    “”When Lucinda Williams played at Crossroads earlier this season it rained during her performance.””

    Lucinda expressed her outrage DURING her show (try to keep up). She stated that night that she will NEVER play that horse corral again.

  14. PB says:

    Yeah
    KC’s not a real city when it comes to music. That statement is stratospherically stupid, even for this site.

    As for guest appearances…just a couple of “minor” ones that I myself witnessed…

    Stevie Ray Vaughn sitting in with Lonnie Brooks at the old GE after a Starlight performance. SRV just had to get some Amazing Grace’s BBQ for a post-concert meal.

    Mick Taylor joining his former little known group, the Rolling Stones, for damn near an entire Kemper Arena performance.

    Of course, nothing compared to the magnitude of Eddie Vedder grabbing a mike, but hey, we try here in this cowtown.

  15. RickM says:

    Keeping up is easy here
    “Lucinda expressed her outrage DURING her show (try to keep up). She stated that night that she will NEVER play that horse corral again.”

    Yeah, she did complain, but (AFAIK) she didn’t let it fester and take it to another place – particularly St. Louis.

    And we’ll see if that prediction holds. You’re probably too young to remember when a very drunken Led Zeppelin was practically booed off the Memorial Hall stage in ’69. At the time, one of them said they’d never play in this town again. Well, they did (as Page & Plant).

    I’m not fond of Crossroads either, but vowing to never play there again isn’t the same as crossing the entire city off your itinerary.

  16. Paul says:

    There is no need for crossroadskc to exist. The city should shut it down. It is not even a real venue and it reflects very poorly on the city as a whole. In a location like Kansas City, with hot summers and cold winters, most shows are best held inside. Anyone who disagrees with that is either an idiot, or too young and ignorant to have a clue how even to wipe their ass.

  17. Hearne Christopher says:

    And Uptown and Midland and Starlight and Livestrong.

    Counter!

  18. Hearne Christopher says:

    Look, if you want AC and all the creature comforts, there are plenty of places for you to go. For a lot of us, it’s fun having other options, urban options, in the great outdoors.

  19. Hearne Christopher says:

    Excellent point.

    If indeed he did talk trash on KC. It’s not like we’re getting something from an unimpeachable source via an anonymous commenter.

  20. Hearne Christopher says:

    I see, you’re bummed because the Crossroads doesn’t have air-conditioning.

    Why not just stay home and watch the video, dude?

  21. Hearne says:

    Allow me to just say this…
    Tens of thousands of people go to the Crossroads every year. Including me. And four years in, they – we – keep coming back. That a handful of commenters think it should have air-conditioning or whatever is fine.

    But obviously, the general public thinks otherwise. The numbers don’t lie.

  22. mick says:

    If you can’t take the heat…………
    So do all of the pussies bitching about the heat ever go to a Royals game, or are you too busy complaining about not having a domed stadium? It’s summer in KC and it’s hot. Boo-hoo. You know what you’re getting into. It doesn’t keep thousands of people from going to The K every night, or the races, or Worlds of Fun, or free shows at P&L, or many other outdoor activities. If it keeps you from going to a concert, well that’s your loss.

    If Elvis didn’t like it, don’t agree to play there. I don’t think the Red Sox forfeit there games here because it’s too hot. It’s part of your job. Personally, I would rather go to an outdoor venue any day than indoors. I think it has a great vibe, and at least you can walk around and get out of the crowd, or just stand in the back and socialize with friends while still listening to music if you want to, rather than be crammed in the middle of an aisle next to somebody you don’t know.

  23. kcfred says:

    Counter.
    “And Uptown and Midland and Starlight and Livestrong. Counter!”

    And if you want to get into that, StL has the Muny but it doesn’t have Crossroads or anything even close. So they win.

    I love my city. I realize they are an advertiser but as long as you guys are all happy being associated with a shit hole, go ahead. It makes KC look bad, and for those who really enjoy going to this place, knock yourself out, you are a part of the problem for accepting and promoting this shit hole. You’re worth it!

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