The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 12, 2006 - 11
Southern legends come to Hill
By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writer
Hurricane Katrina devastated New
Orleans, but it
soul. On Tues- Elvis Costello
day night at Hill & Allen
Auditorium, Elvis Toussaint
Costello and Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Allen Toussaint, Sold Out
two legends from
disparate musical At Hill Auditorium
unite to celebrate life and music in the
wake of a tragedy.
Their recent collaboration, The
River in Reverse, was concocted
after a series of Katrina benefit con-
certs where the New Orleans R&B
legend and the angry young man
from Liverpool performed together.
Originally intended to be sort of a
songbook collection, with Costello
singing selections from Toussaint's
considerable catalogue, the ses-
sions soon morphed into something
entirely different when the pair real-
ized their chemistry as co-writers.
The songs the two wrote and
recorded together with the help of
the Crescent City Horns and Costel-
lo's backing band the Imposters
(both bands will join them on stage)
are a soulful blend of R&B, blues
and funk that is undeniably an hom-
age to New Orleans and its heritage.
The record is a celebration through-
out, but with the strong undertone
of protest and anger directed at the
leadership of America. The con-
demnations are subtle but damning.
On "Ascension Day," Costello sings,
"Thought I heard somebody plead-
ing / I thought I heard someone
apologize / Some fell down weep-
ing / Others shook their fists up at
the skies / And those who were left /
seemed to be wearing disguises."
It's no surprise considering the his-
tories of the parties involved that both
the music and the lyrics are heady, but
never pretentious. Elvis Costello, still
going strong after nearly 20 years of
constant musical evolution, has to be
considered one of the most influential
and innovative songwriters since Bob
Dylan, and he's certainly no stranger
to controversy. Originally somewhat
of a pub-rocker, Costello has gone
from punk with chucks to conductor
with a cowboy hat, recently dabbling
in classical music and country, with-
out losing any of that trademark sneer.
Known for his prolificness, Costello
still can't claim to have had a hand in
a fraction of as much great music as
Toussaint, as- a songwriter, ses-
sion musician, arranger, producer
and solo artist, helped craft the New
Orleans R&B sound - a sound that's
earthy, laid back, warm and exuber-
ant. His songs have been covered by
countless artists, and his influence
has reached countless more. He
launched the careers of Lee Dors-
ey and Irma Thomas with hits like
"Get Out of my Life Woman," "Ride
Your Pony" and "Everything I do
From Now on Gonh Be Funky." His
house band in the '60s went on to
become the Meters (whose albums
he produced). He did arrangements
for The Band, Paul Simon and Little
Feat, and his own work has been
critically acclaimed over the years.
Basically, his resume is a music lov-
er's wet dream.
So on Tuesday night, expect clas-
sics from both legends' catalogues,
but also be prepared for "Broken
Promise Land," "The River in
Reverse" and other new tunes dis-
playing Costello's acerbic lyrics
and Toussaint's soulful grooves.
Tuesday night's show will be a
party for sure, but it's important to
remember why these artists were
brought together in the first place,
as well as the wonderful place they
are paying tribute to every time
they play their music.
Courtesy of Evis Costello
The angry young man isn't so young any more ... but he's still angry.
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