Sunday night at Chastain Park Amphitheater was uncomfortably humid but Elvis Costello & the Imposters and Steely Dan put on a show that demonstrated regardless of the stifling environment they still provide an essence of cool. Both Costello and Steely Dan were in Atlanta as part of their joint extended summer tour across the United States.
Elvis Costello and Steely Dan arrived on the music scene at different times and their musical styles were very different; Steely Dan with their jazz – soft rock sound while Elvis Costello was at the forefront of the punk music movement coming out of the UK.
While Steely Dan has remained largely true to their musical heritage over the years Costello has proven to be much more fluid with his musical tastes with collaborations that have ranged from punk to country to soft jazz. So what might once have been a show with a strange blend of musical style worked well for picnic crowd at Chastain.
First up was “special guest” Elvis Costello and while his set list comprised music from most his albums, he did focus his attention on his earlier material. Costello’s vocal styling and range on his most popular early songs was completely distinctive and completely punk; the lyrics of many of his punk anthems being sneered out with venom that all punk music had at the time. But time has softened his delivery of those songs and “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea!” and “Pump It Up” as examples has suffered. Even the irony-laden “Watching The Detectives” has lost some of its impact.
What was as strong was his presentation of his great ballads. “Alison” was excellent and his version of George Jones “Good Year For The Roses” was stronger than his original album cover version. Saving the best for last Costello’s “Peace Love and Understanding” was a great ending to a somewhat indifferent set.
Steely Dan played a set that focused on the music that has proved, since its original release, that it transcends time. So many great memories of Steely Dan’s music from the late seventies and the live performances of all those songs brought memories flooding back of good friends and great times.
Each song Steely Dan played was a live, faithful rendition of the original with enough artistic license to provide ample opportunity for the members of the 13-piece band to display their talents through solos.
Overall Donald Fagen and Walter Becker played a set that provided few surprises but that didn’t need to to provide an evening of superlative jazz-rock fusion.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters set list
I Hope You’re Happy Now
(Elvis Costello & The Attractions cover)
High Fidelity (Elvis Costello & The Attractions cover)
Radio, Radio (Elvis Costello & The Attractions cover)
Lipstick Vogue (Elvis Costello song)
Watching the Detectives (Elvis Costello & The Attractions cover)
Accidents Will Happen / Flutter and Wow
Love Field (with Larkin Poe)
A Good Year for the Roses (George Jones cover)
Everyday I Write the Book (Elvis Costello & The Attractions cover)
Alison (Elvis Costello song)
(I Don’t Want to Go To) Chelsea (Elvis Costello song)
Pump It Up (Elvis Costello song)
(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
Steely Dan set list
(Ray Bryant cover)
Time Out of Mind
Show Biz Kids
Home at Last
Daddy Don’t Live in That New York City No More
I Want To (Do Everything for You) (Joe Tex cover)
My Old School
Reelin’ in the Years