This reviewer has been at a loss to describe the magic that went on in a room only once before, opting instead to say “You just had to have been there,” and that was with guitarist Monty Montgomery. It’s tempting to just go that route again, but I’m gonna give it the ol’ redneck try. But remember, “You just gotta go next time.”
You know that feeling you get when you walk into a room and at least one “somebody” is so glad you are there? Kevin Costner made me, and countless others “somebodies” in the Choctaw CenterStage room know he was glad we were there.
Kevin Costner and his band, Modern West, wowed the sold-out crowd through its two-hour set, mid-July, with mostly original songs, a band replete with amazing talent, and tales of how all that music came into being.
Joining Kevin on stage were Sara Beck on vocals, Luke Bulla on fiddle, John Coinman, Park Chisolm, and Teddy Morgan on guitars, Blair Forward on bass, and Larry Cobb on drums. Costner interacted with each of them in a way that showed he was as much in awe of their talents as the crowd was.
The show kicked off with film clips from many of Costner’s movies, put together with a momentum that sped those years by. The band’s entrance on stage during that time was hardly noticed. Then, it was time for Costner to get on stage, and he arrived by strolling down the center aisle, greeting somebodies as he ambled, stopping for photos and autographs, or just smiling and shaking hands as he moved.
A hop up onto the stage, and it began. Costner rolled up his white dress-shirt sleeves shirt, and got down to the business at hand — sharing the music he is passionate about.
He plays an acoustic guitar, or rather he held an acoustic guitar most of the time, and even had a pick in his hand at times, and waved that guitar around at times, but basically he left the instrumental tasks to those on stage with him. And that was fine… no one in any band has to be “all of the above.” That’s why there other members in bands.
The songs Kevin Costner has written are of life, life on life’s terms, and so much of his dialogue explained how those songs came into being, done with direct eye-to-eye contact with those somebodies’ eyes in the up-front rows. The lights in the room were dimmed over the crowd, and toward the end, Costner asked that they be raised by up so he could see his audience.
Sara Beck sang one of the songs from Costner’s recent television series “The Hatfields & The McCoys,” the song being “I Know These Hills.” With that, everyone who held electric instruments on stage put them down, picked up acoustic including a banjo and the fiddle, and stood behind Sara in a semi-circle similar to the folk music of yore.
And speaking of Sara and her mesmerizing voice, when Luke Bulla cut loose on some fiddle/violin breaks, even Costner seemed to just let him go. In mid-song, Bulla interspersed “Amazing Grace,” then went back to the song at hand.
Another most-rememberable moment was his “The Angels Came Down,” which Costner dedicated to those families who lost loved ones in a Colorado theater shooting. He explained that people expected to feel safe when they go to the movies, and naturally the movies are most dear to his heart, and so it really hit him hard. At the end of the song, the man turned his back, walked to the drummer almost out of the spotlights, and wiped his eyes of tears before returning to the mic.
“90 Miles An Hour” he explained was about the freedom of driving a convertible with the top down as he chases a new start. “Ain’t nothing behind me but the cost of living….” And “Superman” was a tale of his youth, again a stroll through movieland. “Let Me Be The One,” with Sara, nearly brought the roof down.
Two hours of similar charm, graciousness, and meaningful music presented effectively and without pretense later, Costner popped a bottle of champagne and toasted his audience, those somebodies who went home richer for the experience.
Some of those songs, listening lengths, are available on his MySpace, along with the chance to purchase by download any that hit the heart. Cafeteria-style selections of just which Kevin Costner songs fit the individual lifestyles, and also ITunes, Amazon, and probably more.