Sunday, October 7, 2012

Elvis Costello's Opening Day Show
at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Festival,  October 5, 2012.

By Paul Iorio

                                                             [photo by Paul Iorio]

The main Friday evening kick-off concert at the Hardly Strictly

Bluegrass festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park belonged

to Elvis Costello this year.

Performing solo (10/5/12), Costello played a nearly

90-minute set of classics, rarities and covers to close

the opening day of the fest.

Opening with "Welcome to the Working Week," from his 1977

debut album "My Aim Is True," and working his way through

deep tracks from albums like "King of America" and "Spike,"

Costello was funny and loquacious.

"I'd like to introduce my special guest for the afternoon,"

he said before performing the obscurity "Ghost Train." "It's me!"

He also dusted off vintage ballads like "Shipbuilding" and

"Last Boat Leaving."

"I'm gonna sing you a couple songs about exile," said Costello,

before singing the latter song and '80's "New Amsterdam." "That's how

we all ended up here in the first place."

And the quips and hits just kept coming.

"I'm going to sing you a song I really hate," Costello said.

"...I wrote it in ten minutes, it was a hit for five minutes.

And then I felt all unclean, inside and outside."

That was his intro to "Every Day I Write the Book."

With the sun setting, Costello closed with crowd-pleaser "What's

So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding" and the less

well-received recent track "Sulphur to Sugarcane."

Here are some photos I shot of the gig:

[photo by Paul Iorio]

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[photo by Paul Iorio]

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[photo by Paul Iorio]

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[photo by Paul Iorio]

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[photo by Paul Iorio]

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On the Banjo Stage prior to Costello's set, The Time Jumpers, a band
that included Vince Gill (waving), performed.
[photo by Paul Iorio]

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The festival crowd during Costello's set.
[photo by Paul Iorio]