Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint at Oakland’s Paramount

For our one-year wedding anniversary back in February, Kimi brought us tickets to see Elvis Costello, and Tuesday night was the night of the show. And I guess Yvonne was collaborating with Kimi because they all brought tickets at the same time.

We decided to take public transit, which meant leaving work a bit early. Kimi and I met with John at the Menlo Park Caltrain station where we trained it up to where Yvonne works, and then we drove to the Daly City BART station, and from there over to downtown Oakland for dinner at Le Cheval (a very well known Vietnamese restaurant). Service was very quick (and the food is very good; it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten there), so we had plenty of time to walk on over to the Paramount.

I used to work in downtown Oakland for quite a few after I graduated from Cal, and as Yvonne put it, it was literally a walk down memory lane. When I first started working at Diversified in 1990, it was down at 15th and Broadway (although later we moved to City Center when we spun out Diversitech, the training business). That area of downtown just wasn’t doing well. Once the Emporium Capwell closed, it seemed like the heart went out of all the surrounding businesses. It got to the point where almost all of the doors were boarded up. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that the area had come back: All of the ’89 earthquake damage had finally been repaired, the street work that had seemed to drag out for years was finally done, and both small and large businesses seemed to be doing ok (and the Emporium building was now occupied by Sears). The old Fox theatre with its beautiful Byzantine motif looked like it was back in business. And the clock on the old Oakland Tribune building even had the right time, which I had never seen before.

As for the concert, I was very impressed. We were in row NN in the Orchestra, sort of the middle of the pack. If you haven’t been to the Paramount, it’s a gorgeous Art Deco theatre. It’d been a few years since I saw Tori perform there, and if there’s a more beautiful concert hall in the Bay Area I don’t know about it.

Elvis was in rare form, and Allen Toussaint with his Crescent City Horns lit up the joint. A lot of the music really brought back memories of the first and only time I’ve been to New Orleans, with Kimi right after we got engaged in 2004 (staying with Jeff P. and his then-girlfriend Amber on their floor during Mardi Gras). Of course with Katrina and the theme of their recent collaboration, The River in Reverse, the tone was bittersweet at points.

I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t know a lot of the songs (since I haven’t listed to the new album yet), but they opened with the Nick Lowe-penned classic “Peace, Love & Understanding” (one of my favorite songs) so I was exhilirated right from the beginning.

The new arrangements of old Elvis classics like Pump It Up, Alison, Clown Strike, Watching the Detectives, Deep Dark Truthful Mirror really worked — especially the conjoining of Alison with the old Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ classic, “The Tracks of My Tears.” With Elvis and his three Impostors plus Allen and his four-person horn section as well as his guitarist, Anthony AB Brown, this was a big noisy group. But what really hit home were the quiet moments, especially on a number like Broken Promise Land. A high point for me was a very impressive “Clubland.”

Altogether, they played for over three hours. Amazing, just amazing. You wouldn’t know that Elvis (Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus in real life) was a 52-year-old. I’ve had these songs in my head for two days now.

With the reverse public transit logistics and dropping people off, we didn’t end up picking up Sammy until after 1am from Kyrie’s place (thanks, Kyrie, for watching him!) and I actually had to get some work down so I didn’t get to bed until 2:30. I was definitely dragging at work on Wednesday. But what a wonderful concert. It had been a while since Kimi and I had seen one, so it was really great to get out.

If you have a chance to see one of the stops of this tour, it’s highly recommended. Here’s a sample of what the set list looks like.

Sweetie, thanks for the anniversary present.

2 Responses to “Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint at Oakland’s Paramount”

  1. Scrappy Says:

    What a really fun evening… I’m so glad we got to share it with you! I’ve never realized just how much history lives in the architecture of the buildings in Oakland and the inside of the Paramount theatre is to die for!

    While I didn’t know even 1/2 as many songs as you did, I really enjoyed the beat… those guys were so cool and it was fun to watch them rocking out!

  2. Geoff Mitchell Says:

    Elvis is an amazing performer, and I am envious at your having seen him on this tour.

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