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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A Night at the Palace

Tuesday evening I had the treat of seeing Elvis Costello, one of my favorite musicians since my teenage years, perform solo at one of my favorite venues, the Louisville Palace.

For 145 minutes Costello (born Declan Patrick MacManus in England in 1954) tore through his marathon set of 29 tunes — old and new — on his five acoustic guitars. With a discography of 33 albums, Costello’s tune selections are legion.

Costello began his music career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s. His father was a bandleader who grew his hair long and played songs about “peace and love in Twickenham supper clubs in the 1960s,” Costello told the audience. “My father would say, ‘You’re a disgrace to the family; grow your hair long.’”

Though billed as a solo show, Costello invited Louisville native and My Morning Jacket singer and guitarist Jim James on stage for a few numbers, as well as local songstress Brigid Kaelin, who performed the musical saw and accordion.

Costello has played the Louisville Palace in the past and clearly was pleased to be back. Opened in 1928 as a Loew’s Theater, the Palace was designed by architect John Eberson to mimic an exotic Spanish courtyard, with dimly lit grottos and a deep midnight blue ceiling sprinkled with twinkling stars. Eberson designed the theater as part of a series of “atmospheric” theaters — with 100 movie palaces in dozens of states and even abroad.

Tuesday night’s performance was constructed around a theme: “A Year in Exile,” which Costello quipped about a few times. He also said a complementary theme was “the last year of my youth” and played a new tune of that name, which he says he still is writing. Costello, who will be 60 in August, reached for an electric guitar for that number in his encore.


Today my oldest son is 16 years old. In fact, he already is — he was born at 6:25 in the morning on a Friday at Welborn Baptist Hospital (which closed the following year). When I checked into the hospital, I was surprised that my chart said I was allergic to latex. I was sent to a room with no carpet and special equipment; no maternity suite for me. This also meant no epidural for me.

Maxwell William Tucker was born the next morning, June 12. Like all of you with children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and pets — we wonder where the years go.

Max has grown into a fine young man. He’s a junior at Reitz Memorial High School and swims on the sectional-winning boys’ swim team. Most of his friends are driving. (Indiana drivers now wait until age 16 ½ to be licensed). He’s young for his grade; he entered kindergarten two months after turning 5. Max has heavily researched the car he wishes to drive — a 10-year-old German sports sedan.

Like his second cousin and best friend Brandt Hudson, who grew up in Tennessee and now lives in northwest Georgia, he is car crazy. Max’s favorite entertainment personality is Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear, his favorite television show. It’s a British television series begun in 1977 about motor vehicles; the irreverent Clarkson is one of the show’s extremely popular hosts.

Max began his birthday at morning swim team practice. We’re taking him and his younger brother, Jackson, to lunch. This afternoon he will work at his summer job at the Holy Rosary baseball fields; he is earning money to contribute to the summer car purchase.

Your 16th birthday no longer means keys to the car — but when it’s your oldest son’s birthday, it sure does mark the years, and the car will come soon.

▲ Maxwell in Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee, during a fall college visit.
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