The actor and producer is taking time with his music project to tour the nation with his band, Modern West, a band that seeks to masquerade themselves as country artists but really fit better in the alternative rock category.
On Friday at the Silver Legacy, Costner found himself figuring out if he could adapt to Nevada's cooler evening temperatures and pacifying an inquisitive crowd about whether his music could stand up to his much more established presence in films. By the end of the night, the answer to the questions about both was a resounding "Yes."
The show began with a montage of Costner’s movies, including “Water World,” “JFK” and one of his latest, the psychological thriller “Mr.
Brooks.” A series of clips highlighted the bullets, babes and baseball bonanza of his wide-ranging repertoire among viewer favorites like “Wyatt Earp,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “Field of Dreams.”
Costner then made his entrance from the back of the Grande Exposition Hall with a bright spotlight on him and his band members and shaking hands with fans.
It seemed like a rare opportunity to connect with his admirers who usually only get to see him in the dark of the cinema.
From the beginning of the set, Costner knew he had the “curiosity factor” to contend with and it wasn’t until the end of the third song, “Long Hot Night,” that the audience, obviously long-time devoted fans of his movies, really warmed up to the idea that he can sing.
Perhaps it was that thought in the back of the performers’ minds that pushed them to convince Renoites that there was something worthwhile about their music. John Coinman, Teddy Morgan, Blair Forward, Park Chisholm, Larry Cobb and Luke Bella all provided solid musical and back-up stylings to Costner’s own voice.
However, Bobby Yang, a fiddler who moonlights with Modern West in between shows for his own band, showed great panache with a few solos. The occasional shredding of his fiddle’s strings was a true testament to the passion with which he approaches music.
Costner maintains a flair for the dramatic with his moves throughout the songs. He also narrated before most songs about the inspiration behind them through the show, which he wanted to serve more as a“musical journey” for the crowd. He appealed to Americana ideas of the simple life through his songs about “the pissed-off neighbors” and the lowering of property values with old junk cars sitting on rundown homeowners’ lots with his song “Backyard,” the video for which Modern West has been nominated for the a County Music Television award. Yet, he also addresses the plight of people and rising above in “The Sun Will Rise Again.” Costner was humorous yet sincere and that balance works for him.
Though concert-goers finally mustered the energy at the end during “Superman 14,” most listeners rocked out in their seats the whole time, mostly the ladies, who waved hands and called out to Costner.
He knew he’d have a hard time appealing to the men in audience, he shared Friday, but with inspiration from his wife, he has the confidence, regardless of what listeners think.
“I know I have to pass the man-test,” Costner said. “But I’ve always wanted to play music. And my wife told me, ‘Kevin, are you happy when you play music?’ And I say yes. Then she asked me, ‘Do you think the people out there are happy?’ And I said, ‘I think so.’ She said, ‘What could be wrong with that?’ ”
Kevin Costner and Modern West are one of those “Oh, wow” musical treats that a person might not logically be able to comprehend at first, given Costner’s theatrical talents, but give them some time and they may just find a place on one’s CD rack.