Elvis Costello & The Sugarcanes
Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, Illinois
August 27, 2009

Source: Audio Technica AT-899 omnis => Edirol R-09 @ 24-bit
Transfer: R-09 => WAV => Audition => dither to 16-bit wav => Magix Audio Cleaning Lab => WAV => FLAC (level 8)

Location: Stage left, 9th row

Track listing:

Disc one (65:25):
(1) Entrance (0:13)
(2) Mystery Train (Elvis Presley cover) (4:14)
(3) My All-Time Doll (4:28)
(4) Banter (1:07)
(5) The Bottle Let Me Down (Merle Haggard cover) (3:04)
(6) Banter (1:20)
(7) Down Among The Wines and Spirits (3:33)
(8) Blame It On Cain (3:23)
(9) Banter (1:15)
(10) Femme Fatale (Velvet Underground cover) (4:02)
(11) The Delivery Man (5:17)
(12) The Butcher's Boy (4:42)
(13) Indoor Fireworks (4:35)
(14) Johnny Cash story (2:20)
(15) Hidden Shame (4:57)
(16) Condemned Man (4:04)
(17) Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead cover) (4:08)
(18) Poisoned Rose (5:31)
(19) Mystery Dance (3:03)

Disc two (66:38):
(1) Don't You Lie To Me (Chuck Berry cover) (3:34)
(2) Everyday I Write The Book (5:18)
(3) Complicated Shadows (3:30)
(4) Banter (2:06)
(5) She Was No Good (3:58)
(6) Brilliant Mistake (4:21)
(7) Encore break (1:42)
(8) Banter (0:50)
(9) Sulphur To Sugarcane (6:27)
(10) Alison (5:32)
(11) This Crooked Line (?) (4:05)
(12) Happy (Rolling Stones cover) (4:07)
(13) Red Shoes (5:11)
(14) The Race Is On (George Jones cover) (2:40)
(15) Encore break (0:55)
(16) Red Cotton (6:27)
(17) (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding (Nick Lowe cover) (5:47)

MD5 checksum file is included. Sorry, no artwork.


I only learned shortly before the show (courtesy of DIME) that the current Elvis Costello tour was in a bluegrass format; having read nothing about the shows in advance, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Elvis has embraced many genres over the years and made seemingly odd choices, but to me this one was the strangest. In the end, though, I thought this was an oddly compelling performance; the show didn't do much for me at the time but I've come to appreciate it the more I've listened to it over the last few weeks.

The show was great, if you give yourself a moment to adjust to the idea fo Elvis doing two-plus hours of bluegrass. He was witty, engaging, and in great form; he and the band seemed like they were all having a great time.

The recording itself is pretty good. I was probably 25-30 feet off what would have been a "perfect" line to the PA; the sound is more distant than it should be given how close I was, but it's very clear and instruments are well-balanced. The acoustics of Ravinia help to make up for my less-than-ideal location, but they couldn't cover up the annoying guys to my right who chatted persistently throughout the show (Really, guys? In the middle of an acoustic show at a classical music venue, you're going to spend five minutes talking about your weekend barbeque plans????). For the most part, the talkers in the background, but you can faintly hear their chatter during Elvis' banter and a few quiet points in the music. I was caught off guard with the last encore and was already out of the pavilion when Elvis came on for the last two songs; you can hear me run back inside and end up in a better taping position (4th row-ish) for the last couple of tracks, and the sound is much better at the end.

Not the best recording from the tour, I'm sure, but I was pretty happy with it overall. Since nobody has stepped up with a better (or for that matter, any other) source, I thought I'd put this out there for the Elvis fans. Mp3 samples are included in the comments.