All of the stars from Inside Llewyn Davis showed up on stage save for one: Justin Timberlake, who was performing on stage in London at the iTunes Festival. It seemed that someone had to step up and fill in for the absent Mr. Timberlake and that person was music legend Elvis Costello.
Let’s just say that Costello’s surprise appearance wasn’t a disappointment to anyone in the theater and his entrance spurred the first of many standing ovations from patches of patrons in the crowd.
Oh, and as understudies for Justin Timberlake go, Costello was pretty good.
Alright, he was extraordinary.4) Patti Smith’s Fabulous Faux Pas
Patti Smith started her set covering a song she had first heard Joan Baez sing in the ’60s, but followed it up with a massive jam performance of her own song, “People Have The Power.” The only problem? When she explained that the song was written for the intention of bringing people together to work for change and play music together, she blurted out, “I don’t know who all these people are, but I’m glad they’re here!” Which drew some embarrassed blushes from the lesser known acts on stage and left Smith laughing in embarrassment at her own faux pas.
It was funny and fun. You had to have been there.5) The Three Acts You May Never Have Heard Of, But Whose Music You Need To Listen To Now
Because the event was a sonic smorgasbord of musical legends, folk favorites and young unknowns, the audiences’ reactions to the acts ranged from rapt adulation, friendly applause and whispers of “Who are these people?” Remember, Patti Smith had no clue whom she was singing with…
Because music coordinator T Bone Burnett has impeccable taste in music and a decisive eye for talent, none of these lesser known acts disappointed. However, there were three in particular who showed they have the chops (or the star quality) to follow the likes of the Avett Brothers and Marcus Mumford into the mainstream.
The Punch Brothers opened and closed the show, and they also played back up on nearly every other set of the night. Their ubiquity caused Marcus Mumford to quip towards the end of the night that they were the “house band.” He also noted that “someone should pay them a lot of money,” and he’s right. The contemporary bluegrass band showed themselves equal to the task of being bigger stars and well, now that Mumford & Sons is on a hiatus, they might just be the group to fill that nufolk gap in the market.
Lake Street Dive also surprised the audience. They were third in a cluster of lesser known acts (including the also great Milk Carton Kids and Secret Sisters), but by the audience’s reaction when they took the stage, appeared to be the least well known. However, as soon as they started playing, they had the crowd on their side. They sound like what would happen if Amy Winehouse went folk, which trust me, is not a bad thing.
That said, Rhiannon Giddens might have given the performance of the night. The chanteuse is most known for being the lead singer and banjo player for the Carolina Chocolate Drops, but last night she wowed the audience by singing two incendiary folk ballads (one not in English) in the style of torch songs. Seriously, she was incandescent. I was slack-jawed the whole time.