by Klaus Kinski
Unwigged & Unplugged & Elvis Costello @ the Beacon - 5/26/09 (andyg_flickr)
Last night (5/26) I caught the first of two performances of UNWIGGED & UNPLUGGED: An Evening with Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer at the gorgeously restored Beacon Theater. As much as I love (and cannot imagine a life without) the music-centric films This Is Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, and Waiting For Guffman, the thought of an acoustic, out of character, 'greatest hits' set initially struck me as crass commercialism at its worst. And, hell, maybe it was crass commercialism at it's worst; but holy moly if those dudes didn't slap the smug, cross-armed look off my face within the first five chords.
Their re-orchestrations of Tap classics to fit a folk mold were awe-inspiring works of genius. Highlights from the set included Hell Hole, Saucy Jack, The Bulging River, Stonehenge, Start Me Up, A Mighty Wind, Eat At Joes, and Sex Farm. But the major holy shitballs moment of the evening was when the trio backed up ELVIS COSTELLO for an extremely ballsy rendition of Gimme Some Money. The event wasn't without its minor clams though. I felt that the show was about 30 minutes too long and that the stage banter was at times too long winded, self-indulgent, dated, and often unfunny (ie, poking fun at the lack of music played on MTV). That said, these guys can really play and sing and for the most part they had me busting a gut and admiring their very real skills as musicians. Add to that the brief video interludes featuring vintage, rare Tap footage and a couple of fan-made music videos, and I had myself one helluva time.
While looking around for a setlist of the show, I came across this livejournal entry that talks about a different Unwigged show, but nonetheless pretty closely describes the basic format and pacing of the Beacon show I saw. Catch them at the same venue, again tonight (5/27). Some videos from last night below...