Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Caruso in my head

I get a little nervous at rock concerts these days. When I don't sing along, people around me get suspicious and shoot "Hey, who's the narc?" glances at one another.

Elvis Costello performed at the Greek Theatre in L.A. on Tuesday night and my seat was in the pit right below the stage, where audience participation is usually universal. Luckily, Elvis Costello is touring with a bluegrass band this summer, and he has been breaking in about a dozen songs from a new album. The new crop of songs don't yet have the familiarity of "Pump It Up" and "Alison"; even Elvis kept his eyes fixed on lyrics on a music stand when singing the new tunes.

But enough classics were sprinkled throughout Elvis' set —"Blame It on Cain," "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," "Everyday I Write the Book"— that the audience had plenty of opportunities to follow the bouncing ball and sing along.

Everyone but me, that is. I can't even pull off a decent hum. And when Elvis tossed in a surprise rendition of the Rolling Stones' "Happy," it killed me to sit in my seat poker-faced during the chorus. (Keith, don't take it personally.)

Before the first encore, I spotted a couple vacate their seats in the first row, so I couldn't resist promoting myself to take their place, right at Elvis' feet. I prayed that Elvis wouldn't scan the faces in the front row and spot my tight-lipped puss.

I don't think he noticed me, thank God.

But I better have my voice back by the next time that the Stones roll through town. The Stones audience —maybe even the band themselves— would surely turn on me if I don't join in by shouting "I said Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! OOOOOOOO!" at the end of "Brown Sugar."

My photos from Elvis' performance at the Greek

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