Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl

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Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl
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By Robert Bernstein

Blondie and Elvis Costello are on a big tour and we were fortunate this week to have them performing at the County Bowl. And thanks to my friend Sarah who got tickets we were able to be there.

Here http://swt.org/events/blondie2019/ are a few photos I took at their performance.

Yes, the quality of my photos is not so great. I have had some terrifying encounters with security at the Bowl in the past and I wanted to carry as little as possible into the event. After taking about a ten year break from Bowl events, I was pleased that nothing terrible happened.

I saw Blondie at the County Bowl on August 21, 1999. Her voice was excellent back then, but she was not looking so great. This time at age 74 her voice is still excellent, but she was also looking mighty fine! In two words, she was sexy and seductive!

She burst on stage dressed in a bee costume!

One of her current issues is Save the Bees. Here is her web site Bee Connected: https://www.blondie.net/beeconnected/

She took off the bee mask and showed us her lovely face as she performed one classic top hit after another, interspersed with some of her newer work.

She was clearly enjoying performing for us as much as we were enjoying her performance

As for Elvis Costello... Well, not so much. He did give a long performance from 8:30-10:00PM performing many of his top hits. But there was something off.

One thing I love about Elvis Costello music is how clear and crisp his voice is and how you can understand every word clearly. Well, not so much at this performance. It all sounded "muddy" to me. As if the mixing board people were asleep. But my wife and Sarah also noted that he was off key a lot of the time.

I Googled this and some people claim the off key thing is part of his performance style. OK. But the bad mixing can't be part of the performance.

He redeemed himself a bit with his backup singers Brianna Lee and Kitten Kuroi who sparkled as they danced and sang for us.

Still, I was glad to see him perform some of my favorite songs. Especially after Blondie put me in such a good mood.

I did not write down all of the songs performed by Blondie and Elvis Costello. But this reviewer wrote down their set list from an earlier  show at Forest Hills in New York:
http://www.brooklynvegan.com/elvis-costello-blondie-played-forest-hills-pics-setlist-video-old-town-road-cover/

This was pretty much the same as what we heard. Except Elvis Costello never did perform "Alison" for us.

Here is what they had for Blondie:

One Way or Another
Hanging on the Telephone
Fun
Call Me
Maria
Too Much
Rapture
Old Town Road (Lil Nas X)
Fade Away and Radiate
The Tide is High
Orchid Club
Atomic
Heart of Glass
Encore
You're Too Hot
Dreaming

And here is what they had for Elvis Costello:

Pump It Up
Miracle Man
Clubland
Accidents Will Happen
Green Shirt
Photographs Can Lie(The Look of Love Intro)
Mr & Mrs Hush
Beyond Belief
Watching the Detectives
A Face in the Crowd
This Year's Girl
Less Than Zero
I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down
High Fidelity
Everyday I Write the Book
Alison
(What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

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El Barbareno Aug 11, 2019 12:57 PM
Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl

The sound for both bands was way off. As has happened at the Granada and a few other concerts, the bass was just a rumble . Could not hear a clear note of the bass in either band. The other instruments came through just fine. Elvis definitely sounded off key and even a little off time.

sbrobert Aug 11, 2019 09:47 AM
Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl

KITHI thank you for the explanation about Joni Mitchell. I did hear Elvis Costello mention that she was in attendance. But I had no idea that she had performed at the event. Not sure how I missed that. Perhaps it was when I went out for food between the performances. ========================================================================== And thank you FREDMERTZEE and EASTBEACH for the helpful comments. I did a lot of Google searching before writing my review to see if there was an explanation for Elvis Costello sounding off. Not one major review had a single critical work about his performance or the poor mixing quality. There were fan comments about it, but with no indication of why. No matter what ills he had, it still does not explain the bad mix quality. ========================================================================== Overall I was very happy to have been there and thanks for the comments!

kithi Aug 11, 2019 06:54 AM
Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl

Very complete review of the show, but no mention that Joni Mitchell started Elvis Costello’s set! She sat in front of us for the Blondie show, then went back stage. It was her remarkable voice singing before Elvis came out. Later Elvis acknowledged she was in the house, and she received a standing ovation from the crowd!

EastBeach Aug 11, 2019 11:23 AM
Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl

Great to hear Joni was up on stage. I have the DVD from her 1979 Bowl concert (Pat Metheney, Lyle Mays, Jaco Pastorius). I don't think she's played the Bowl that many times so wonder if it was nostalgic for her?

EastBeach Aug 10, 2019 03:26 PM
Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl

Oh, and Costello was diagnosed with cancer (probably testicular) last summer after which he cancelled a bunch of concerts. So his battle may have had an effect on his performances of late, but good to see him touring again.

EastBeach Aug 10, 2019 03:20 PM
Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl

Wow, amazing to think Deborah Harry was born just when WW2 was closing down. Rapture was such an innovative hit. Heart of Glass was another favorite. Glad to see she seems healthy/happy.

FredMertzEE Aug 10, 2019 10:56 AM
Blondie and Elvis Costello at the Bowl

I felt the same way about Elvis Costello's performance. It just seemed kind of sloppy and off key, like the band wasn't in sync and his vocals weren't hitting the notes. I ended up leaving before the end of his show. From the song list, it also looks like he intentionally held up playing the songs that I really wanted to hear until the very end of the concert. I would have rather heard those songs instead of something from some new musical that he wanted to promote. It was a big contrast to Blondie's performance, which was super tight musically and just great all the way around. Clem Burke was incredible as usual. The only song they didn't play that I wanted to hear was Maria. But overall, they were awesome.

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