Raina Rose, Anthony DaCosta, and John Elliott at the Living Room -October 10th, 2008
When I was in danger of doing some early evening work back in early October, Matt let me know that he was heading down to the Living Room to see Anthony DaCosta and John Elliott at the Living Room. I’ve been a big ADC fan since I saw him for the first time at the Emerging Artist Showcase at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (FRFF) back in 2007 where he slew the audience with “Poor, Poor Pluto” (an inclusion on the Rattle My Cage 2007 Mix). His stellar reputation in my eyes was only reinforced when I saw him again at the Rockwood Music Hall with Abbie Gardner earlier this year and again in this year’s Most Wanted Song Swap at Falcon Ridge. So the news that ADC would be there was enough for me but Matt informed me that John Elliott would be nothing short of excellent — actually, Matt sometimes is an expectations manager so I’m sure he persuaded me of Elliott’s excellence otherwise, but he was in fact nothing short of excellent.
Regardless, the night opened with brief set from Raina with some hard core strumming and what I thought were some pretty strong vocals. Then ADC, now 17, did a brief set in which, at some point, he noted “I’m finally done with standardized testing!” which is not something you hear from most folk singers. I’m going to be a little upset if I find that he eventually gave up a promising folk career to become a corporate lawyer. Anyway, Anthony had strong set that included my ADC favorite, “The Devil’s Won,” to which I was introduced at the aforementioned Rockwood show. Elliott really did do an exceptional set before all three combined to do a set together.
John Elliot’s performance is great, but he is a unique, top-notch songwriter. His lyrics are powerfully composed. The content often seems erratic and unrelated, it works within a verse-chorus structure that allows it to become more than the sum of its parts. This isn’t the (and I don’t use the term pejoratively) nonsense lyrics of Dylan. In Dylan’s case, the unrelated content of his songs often seemed more external, more literary, and more intent on making social commentary through iconic imagery. (I’m specifically thinking of “I Shall Be Free” here). Elliott, on the other hand, seems to specifically evoke emotionally iconic images which are often put together in a conflicting or puzzling manner that gain their power not just from the pure evocation, but from the listener’s attempt to rationalize or resolve them — “I’d love to see you making love or killing.” It was just wonderful and mature song writing.
The most raucous moment of the night came when the three of them did Elliot’s “Feet to the Fire.” I first heard this song done by Matt at our camp site on the Friday night of the FRFF, and then again the next day by ADC. It was great seeing them all do it together. I love that song. In fact I’m going to listen to it wright now while I hyper-link this baby up.
Catch Matt’s review here.