Historiann went to see Elvis Costello and the Imposters and The Police last night at Red Rocks. (Photo by John Leyba for the Denver Post.) This was my first show at that venue–it’s a gorgeous setting in a natural red rocks amphitheatre, very beautiful as the sun sets behind you and the lights of Denver appear. I never went to any really big acts back in my youth in the 1980s and 1990s–I was more of a cult-band in a nightclub kind of person than an arena rock fan. But, a very generous friend had a free ticket, and it was a great show. Elvis performed a few of his newer songs, but mostly golden-oldies like “Watching the Detectives,” “Radio Radio,” and “Alison,” with a few of his quirkier old songs like “Beyond Belief.” (I was hoping he’d play something from my favorite album of his, King of America, but no such luck.) The Police performed their oldies too, completely without any of Sting’s solo act numbers. It was interesting to be reminded, in their versions of “De Do Do Do De Da Da Da” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” of when the band was more sonically connected to The Specials, English Beat, and other late 70s/early 80s British and Anglo-Caribbean ska band than they were to the emergent 80s power rock acts. The Denver Post reviewed Monday night’s performance here yesterday, which turned out to be an exact prediction of the show we saw last night.
Aside from my first show at Red Rocks, it was also my first “nostalgia act” show. Man, was it strange to be surrounded by old people at a rock concert! The only shirtless young guys were in the parking lot outside of the venue hawking cans of beer and bottles of water. The men inside the theatre kept their shirts on–thank goodness!–since most of them were in the 35-to-55 age range. The men in the bands looked pretty good–or at least, no worse for the wear, since they’re all in their mid-fifties too. The crowd looked like a giant twentieth or twenty-fifth high school reunion! Sting was as handsome as ever, although he is manorexically thin and rather Alfred Packer-ish with a short, scruffy, gray beard that crept down his neck practically to his shirt. Elvis looks pretty much as he did the last time I saw him, in Philadelphia in the summer of 1989: pudgy, sweaty, and overdressed in a suit with a cravat, but his “new” band (which consists of his former “Attractions” bandmates Steve Nieve on the keyboard and Pete Thomas on drums, with Davey Faragher on the bass) was tight and fun. It was especially great to see Elvis with Nieve, who ended the set with a flourishing homage to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Why the title “Please don’t stand so close to me” for this post? Interestingly enough, after writing about men’s presumptions on women’s bodies, time, and space yesterday, I had a related real life experience. Towards the end of the main set, Sting was setting up a call-and-response (one of those ay-oh, ee-yo-yo-yo things that he does) with the crowd. I wasn’t really into singing along, but was swaying and enjoying myself. Apparently, that was insufficient for the middle-aged stranger standing behind me in row 28, seat 98 or 99, who decided to reach over and rub his hands all over my neck, back, and shoulders, and admonish me to do better! And, did I mention that I was wearing a mostly backless yoga top, because it was 100 degrees in Denver yesterday? Eeeeeeeeewww!!!!!1111!!!!eleventy-ones! It was made even creepier by the fact that this was during an extended version of one of those obsessive breakup songs (perhaps “Can’t Stand Losing You?”) What made him think that that was appropriate behavior, aside from good, old-fashioned male privilege? I know he was feeling the music and all excited, but please. (And, his female companion/girlfriend/wife thought it was all in good fun, when I turned around in stunned horror to see who on earth was manhandling me!) I’ve been in clubs where everyone was hot, sweaty, and jumping on each other’s feet all of the time, but this wasn’t one of those situations. Well, I’m not a large person, nor am I a male person, and (I think this is key, too) I wasn’t with a man, but with a woman friend. Ergo, random men think it’s OK to put their hands on my body?
If you know Historiann in real life, you know that although she’s a petite-ish woman, she’s not the kind of person who hugs new acquaintances (or even old ones!) or otherwise sends out vibes suggesting that its OK to touch her body. Ugh.