In Concert: Steely Dan and Elvis Costello

I haven’t been a regular concertgoer for some time. Outrageous ticket prices, the ridiculous hoops you have to go through to get tickets (and even then you won’t get good seats), the obnoxious people who always wind up in your general vicinity, getting out of the parking lot when it’s over — I’ve bitched about all this stuff before.

It’s enough to make an old man just stay home with the headphones on or grab a lawn chair and head over to New Town where the shows are free and the hassle is negligible. Besides, I’ve seen pretty much everyone I wanted to see live at least once.

So it has to be a pretty special lineup for me to leave the RRoy Cave. And when it was announced that Steely Dan and Elvis Costello were teaming up for a show at Riverport Amphitheater*, well, that got my attention. I’ve seen Elvis many times but had never seen Steely. I was a latecomer to Steely Dan fandom, despite being over-exposed to it in college thanks to friend and roommate. Maybe that’s why I didn’t care for them back then.

Anyway, I love them now and wanted to see them and having Elvis there was just a bonus. They had a special on lawn tickets so we went that route. I don’t need to be that close to Elvis or Donald — not much to see there and the giant video screens will cover it.

Show was to start at 7 p.m. – which seemed early for a rock show, but I guess the rockers are getting old like the rest of us and want to get to bed early. I’m all in favor of that. This was going to make it a challenge to get there on time, but fortunately Riverport is close to home (especially compared to all other St. Louis venues) so there shouldn’t be a problem. And concerts never start on time anyway, am I right?

The plan was to leave the house at 6. Andrew’s adult-sitter, who’s always early, was 10 minutes late due to traffic. No biggie. Still plenty of time. We leave the house, Elm to 370 to Earth City Expressway…we are almost to the Earth City/I-70 interchange when it hits me

I FORGOT THE TICKETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!! I begin screaming and cursing and whip the car around at the first intersection and start heading back to St. Charles.

“This is a one-way street! You’re going the wrong way!”

“Well, it’s too late to turn around now!”

“You’re going to get us killed!”

“I can’t turn around in the middle of the street! I’ll turn around at the next side street!”

Which I do. Now we’re even later and I have to take 70 back home through St. Charles proper and a dozen stop lights. I’m cursing myself for my stupidity the entire time in my head (I’ve been doing that a lot lately) and Laurie’s freaking out over my erratic driving.

“This concert is not worth getting us killed!”

“If it was just Elvis or Steely, maybe. But both together? It’s worth it.”

“Just chill. It won’t start on time anyway.”

We get back to the house, Lar runs inside to get tickets, then back through St. Charles. Fortunately the lights were with us. We get off at ECE and there’s a sign pointing right to Riverport parking. Seems a bit far away but it’s been years since we’ve been to Riverport so maybe things have changed.

Follow the sign and find that the road that will take us to RP is closed off. So we have to turn around and go back down to where we normally would go. Try and imagine my state of mind right now. Be glad you were not in the car. Be very glad.

We finally park in the right lot, 2 miles from the entrance. We begin the hike.

We’re almost to the entrance when I hear the unmistakable music and vocals of “I Hope You’re Happy Now” spilling over from the other side of the hill. I look at my watch: 7:01. You’ve got to be kidding me. Remember all those shows where we waited a half-hour or more past start time for someone to show up on stage? Tonight, Riverport decides to operate like a well-oiled machine.

steelydan_0_1424165236We find a spot on the lawn and settle in for the night.  Elvis and The Imposters rip through a solid greatest hits retrospective with just a couple of lesser-known tunes, one of which being the awesome “Flutter and Wow.”

Precisely one hour later, like clockwork, Elvis has left the building — or rather stage. Good show but I’ve heard Elvis sound better. He really seemed to struggle at times. Lots of favorite tunes in the set list so no complaints there. Could’ve been longer but that’s the curse of being the opener.

Precisely 30 minutes later, like clockwork, Steely Dan takes the stage. Donald Fagan and Walter Becker assembled a terrific backing band/singers for the show. Having never seen Steely I had no idea what to expect. It was a really, really good show. Walter’s speeches were a little long, other than that the song selection was excellent, Don sounded strong and the band was solid.

Which is not to say that the concert-going experience was flawless. As usual, we would up next to assholes who wouldn’t stop talking. Why? Why do you come to a concert to have a conversation? Talk in the car on the way there. Talk in the car on the way home. Talk during intermission. But for the love of God, SHUT UP when the band is playing. Sigh. Why is the world full of jerks and rude people and why do they always sit by me at concerts?

On the plus side, at least there wasn’t anyone standing up in front of us the whole time. There was a quartet of old hippies off to the side that were an entertaining side-show — entertaining because they were off to the side where they didn’t obstruct my view.

The show ended at precisely 10:30, like clockwork, just like promised on the website. I have to admit, I was impressed. Hiked back to the car and would’ve made a clean getaway but the traffic cops funneled us in the wrong direction and after trying to go around them (which didn’t work) we eventually wound up where we needed to be.

Overall, an exceptionally good show. If the tour is coming to your town I highly recommend you check it out. Don’t forget your tickets.

*Yes, yes. I’m aware it’s no longer called Riverport. I don’t care. I can’t keep up with corporate name changing, nor do I want to.


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