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“Spectacle: Elvis Costello with the Police”

August 7, 2008

If you are not a fan of Elvis Costello or the Police, you just better stop reading now and skip to the next post.

If you are a fan, you are in the right place.  For yesterdsay, I had the extreme pleasure of attending a taping of Elvis’s new talk show, “Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…” The “with”, in this case, was the Police.  And now, I’m going to talk about it.  But first….

OMG OMG OMG

Two of my favorite artists together on one stage.  I’m trying VERY hard to not gush here, but it’s next to impossible. So, I’m just going to get started, and if another “squeee” or “OMG” pops out, so be it.

About two weeks ago, I saw a notice posted on Stewart Copeland’s web site about a taping that was taking place for “Spectacle“.  They were encouraging “fan club” members to sign up for a ticket lottery.  Having just won a ticket to the final Police show at MSG tonight, I figured I was riding high as far as luck was concerned, and I should absolutely enter.  I also called my friend Liz to do the same, as she was a Police.com member.

Last Friday, I got the email saying that I had won a ticket.  I immediately texted Liz and told her to get to her email, pronto.  Sure enough, she had won as well.  The taping was to be August 6th at the world famous Apollo Theater in NYC. We planned to meet in Penn Station and then take the subway uptown.  I was a little delayed, but that was OK, because by this time I had convinced Liz to get a ticket for the final MSG show.  Due to my delay, she had the time to do that.

We headed uptown, picked up our tickets, visited the dirtiest Blimpie I have ever seen, then waited on the very hot “fan club” line to be seated.  While on line, security guards were walking up and down the line threatening us about not bringing in outside food and drinks, and cameras.  Apparently, there were 3 choices if we had a camera:

1. Return them to our cars

2. Mail them to ourselves from the US post office down the street “for a cost of $3.95”

3. Hand them in and lose them to security FOREVER

I started to panic.  I did have a camera with me, abeit a small one that was easily hidden.  1 wasn’t an option, as my car was at home.  I didn’t have the time or energy for #2, so I was prepared to offer my memory card and batteries if the camera was found.  I put it in a zippered compartment in my purse, blocked by my blackberry.  Needless to say, it was not found, but I never used it either.

Once inside, it became clear that the fan club people were being treated well.  We had the first 20 or so rows of the theatre to ourselves.  People from Sundance and other channels, as well as the corporate sponsors were in the balcony or in the back.  We were certainly in for a treat.

Even though the doors opened late, they seemed to stick to the promise of closing them at 3:45.  Soon after, the producer/director/whoever came out and talked to us about how to behave during the taping (don’t move around, no cell phones, photos, texting, etc).  There were a couple of funny bits:

Who has never been to a TV taping? Raise your hands.

Now, for everyone who this is their first TV taping, raise your hands…

Great, that was some of the same people

Sadly, some folks didn’t get the joke.  We then were asked to scream and applaud wildly for about 5 minutes, which surely gave them more than enough to edit in later.

The set was incredible – not sure how it will look in TV, but it was modern, attractive and really different looking.

Just as soon as the preambles ended, Elvis came to the stage with his guitar.  He was dressed typically Elvis – dark suit, porkpie hat, glasses.  He said a few words, then went into a solo version of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”.  Amusingly, the lyrics for the song were running on a teleprompter while he was singing.  He must be the only person in the Western world to NOT know the lyrics to that little ditty.  He did the song twice, the second time a little slower and more deliberate, and with different words!  He was making up the words!  Gotta love Elvis – it was his world, and we were just living in it.

He then brought out his band, the Impostors . They played “Don’t Go Please Say” and he said it was one that Andy had played and they would talk about it later.  However, I don’t think they ever did.  In fact, he never said the name of the song, but it was on the teleprompter which is the only reason I can tell you what it was.

He then did a fun intro of the the band.  You could see them offstage left, grimacing and grinning with what he was saying.  The Imposters were playing Police-esque songs in the background.  When the band came out, they waved but kept walking off the stage.  Elvis: “Was it something I said?”  Must have been how they were editing for TV.

The interview segments were first. Each band member solo, followed by the 3 together.

* Andy – this was about 15 minutes. They talked about his early gigs, his influences, and their shared love of Charles Mingus. They dueted on “Weird Nightmare.” From the teleprompter, you could see that he ran through all of his questions for Andy, and had time left over.

* Stewart – first questions were on the “Disaster Gig” post on his web site. He said that he wasn’t trying to do anything more than tell a story for his site visitors, and while it caused friction in the band, it’s all water under the bridge now. He said his son is a filmmaker (named Jordan, great name!) who put together a documentary for the upcoming tour DVD. Stewart was his usual vociferous self, and I don’t think Elvis got in even half of the questions he planned to ask. No musical performance here, phooey.

* Sting – for some reason, Mr. Tantric Yoga decided to come with his porn beard and a shirt opened down to his waist. Humorously enough, at one point the teleprompter went dark and the words “ELVIS – REMOVE THE TAPE FROM STING’S SHIRT!” came up. He didn’t, and it was up to one of the producers to do so later. Sting told about the original idea for the melody in “Roxanne”, and how he was afraid to go to the band with a song titled after a girl, until he heard Elvis’s own “Allison.” Then, it was, “Bring me my Lute!” and they dueted on a some barn burner for lute and vocal. I swear, if I never hear that lute again, it will be too soon.

Elvis then interviewed the entire band together. Some fun things came out here. Stewart talked about how a fight on stage spilled over into dueling cars on the ride home from the gig, and ended only when he saw a “hairy ass” in the window of the other car.  Elvis talked about how some bands are prone to passive-aggressive behavior, to which Stewart interrupted , “This band DOESN’T DO passive-aggressive!”

When asked their favorite Police song, Stewart couldn’t stop naming songs, among them “Born in the 50s”, “Can’t Stand Losing You” and “Message in a Bottle.” Andy’s pick was “Message in a Bottle” while Sting went cheeky, selecting “Mother” (written by Andy) and “Miss Gradenko” (written by Stewart). Naturally, Stewart called BS on that.  He did say that “Mother” was one of his kids’ faves though.

When asked their favorite Police moment, Sting said he hoped it would be the last show at MSG, Andy said Shea Stadium, and Stewart said something like he has one every night.

Then, the big wrap up.  The two bands got together for 3 songs, 4 performances.

“Sunshine of Your Love”
a mashup of Elvis’s  “Watching the Detectives and The Police’s “Walking on the Moon”
“Purple Haze”
“Sunshine of Your Love” (again, because someone “on guitar” messed up – Elvis seemed to demure, but I’m pretty sure it was Andy)

These performances were AMAZING!  Two drummers, 2 amazing guitarists, and Steve Nieve on keyboards?  Seriously?  Had I died and gone to musical heaven?

And then, as soon as it had started, it was over.  I cannot say I wanted it to end – I could have listened to the PoliceImposters play for hours.  Elvis was great in his role as “chat show presenter”.  It’s clear that he’s new at this, but he’s got his footing pretty well, and seems to be comfortable doing it his way.  I’m looking forward to seeing the final show, as well as others in the “Spectacle!” series.  Do yourself a favor – look for the series and check it out.  If yesterday’s is any indication, there is magic being made!

My thanks to the folks at Sundance ChannelStewartcopeland.net and thepolice.com who thoughtfully offered the tickets to “fan clubbers”.  I’m extremely grateful I had the chance to participate in this amazing event.  OMG and squeeeeee!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2008 12:03 pm

    I LOVE ELVIS COSTELLO!!!!! and his cute little purple suit. Great wrap-up post, sounds like a stupid-awesome-amazing night 🙂

  2. Middle Man permalink
    August 8, 2008 5:20 am

    Wow. Lucky girl. You might enjoy this:

    http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/sting-in-the-tale/

  3. susan permalink
    October 5, 2008 7:32 pm

    yes I am jealous. I love Elvis. And Elvis singing and talking to the Police is almost too much joy to tolerate. You are a lucky lady.

  4. London Gal permalink
    March 8, 2012 11:01 am

    I know Stewart’s son, Jordan, really nice guy.

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