Thursday, September 23, 2021

Stand review: Kevin Costner struggles to become a singer in a country rock concert

There is a strange, unwritten rule of popular culture that the public generally prefers artists to stay on their own tracks.

If you play football, you cannot play baseball at the same time. If you are a singer, you cannot be an actor. If you are an actor, you cannot be a singer.

This did not stop a large group of actors from trying. The baby boomers don’t seem to be afraid to impose their vanity projects on the public, including Russell Crowe, Kevin Bacon, Keanu Reeves, David Duchovny, Jeff Bridges, Hugh Laurie and Bruceway Liss.

On Friday night, another singer made headlines in the stands of the Minnesota State Fair. The show was called Music, Movies, and Conversations with special guest Kevin Costner of Modern West.

The party started with a (lengthy) editing reel of Costner’s various film roles, including a lot of tough guy stuff, explosions, and buzzing monologues. Then Costner and his band Modern West played 85 minutes, followed by a 30-minute Q&A time with Costner, and screened “Dream Field”. He attracted 3,584 spectators and the highest ticket price was $75.

The modern West turned out to be a surprise. They are rock solid and perform with expertise comparable to any number of multi-platinum country performances. (In addition, band member Teddy Morgan is a native of Minnesota and is the only musician on stage that Costner introduced to the audience.)

On the other hand, Costner is not a singer. There is a glimmer of hope everywhere, showing that vocal coaches can do miracles. (If he is professionally trained, then this person should find a new job.) However, in most cases, he did a lot of plain and distant conversation and singing, just like his performance. At the end he warmed up a bit, but there were also some daunting moments, including his attempt to impress Dylan in “Hey, Mr. Tambourine”.

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As for his original songs, ha ha. The band played them beautifully again, but they were considered imitations of the five-rate Eagles, and the lyrics were written by a random cliché generator. Indeed, these songs are as mediocre as their names: “Long Night”, “Chasing the Wind”, “Living in the City”, “The Road Away From Home” and so on.

To his credit, Costner laughed at himself for his musical reputation. He first thanked the women in the audience (apparently liked him) for persuading their husbands to come. Twice, he said he was playing a new song, but in fact, for most of the people present, everything was a new song.

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During the Q&A session, Costner shared some endless anecdotes about his various movies, repeatedly talked about the deep meaning of his songs, and revealed that he has four or five dream projects, including a “Western Legend.” In fact, Costner likes to make westerns, and “rolls in the mud, shoots at the bad guys… the more primitive it is, the more I like it.”

He said he joined a band in his 20s, but was stung by the criticism he received and stopped playing music. Fifteen years ago, his second wife persuaded him to start again.

After telling the chaotic story about the movie “To Love the Game”, Costner thanked the audience again and said: “See you in the movie!”

Stand review: Kevin Costner struggles to become a singer in a country rock concert
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