Written by Kevin Black
In case you are wondering why The Woodlands Pavilion is still alive and well, it’s because it’s the greatest large venue in and around Houston to see your favorite artist. The Texas heat index didn’t stop 6,500 fans from filling the pavilion to capacity. From a photographer’s view, when Elvis Costello lead his group on stage in a blue three piece pinstripe suit with both guns blazing, I knew it was going to be good.

ImageIf you haven’t seen EC live before you might not know what to expect, but you will never get caught off guard if you always expect the unexpected. Ninety-seven in the shade didn’t keep Elvis from being himself as a top-notch audio-visual artist with total control of his ability to entertain the audience with his moves and outright charisma.

Coupled with a nicely arranged set list of songs, it’s safe to say he gave his fans exactly what they wanted. Costello is so comfortable with his music that he chose to perform two hard rocking tunes, only to close with a dark ballad. Now that’s confidence! Elvis may have left the building, but Costello is still rocking the house.

Just so you know, the term rocking the house is an understatement when it comes to Steely Dan’s concert. Evidently, Donald Fagen and cofounder/guitarist/vocalist Walter Becker are not superstitious.

ImageThirteen, that’s right, 13 of the world’s greatest musicians came together flawlessly for what appeared to me to be the tightest band on Planet Earth. Four horns, three amazing ladies singing backup; one song after another kept reinforcing the idea that they must have rehearsed for 364 days to perform this one show. SD’s fans treated every song as if it were an encore. It seemed as though the only time they stopped cheering and clapping was when the band kicked off another song.

And Walter Becker’s frame of mind is mind blowing. He introduced his formula for a post SD concert “unwind” that went on for ten minutes. Becker’s formula included whiskey, beer, wine, smoke and a Steely Dan cd, then kicking back and reflecting on what you just witnessed.

ImageBeing a concert-goer since 1970, what really impressed me most about this concert is that this could be the only show I have attended where the vocals/harmonies, guitar tones and riffs– along with the drummer and bass guitarist being welded together– matched the recordings we enjoy coming out of the studio that are still played on FM radio. It’s very refreshing to hear aging vocalists still hit the high notes after decades of strain on their vocal chords.

They say if you make a mistake on your instrument go back jack and do it again and it will sound like jazz. There were no mistakes in this jazz-rock band that we know, and love, as Steely Dan.

See ya down the road!

Kevin Black