Phil Shane Embodies Elvis at Azteca

Phil Shane
Azteca Mexican Restaurant
Jan. 4, 2015

Last night I finally heard the song “Blurred Lines.” Thankfully, it was the Phil Shane version.

The Robin Thicke tune was requested towards the end of the singer's four-hour set at Azteca Mexican Restaurant in Garden Grove by a blonde woman. I know the song was requested by her because I heard her ask for this particular number. And I could hear her because my brother and I (the two youngest people in the capacity-filled room once two young children left halfway through the show) sat on a bench behind the stage because all of the dining tables were occupied by the time we got there at 6:45, which is a long-winded way of saying Phil Shane fans arrive on time, they come in droves and they don't leave early.

I assumed he wouldn't know the song because, hell, I don't know it and I'm 35 years old. But he did because he's Phil Shane and Phil Shane knows everything. And after almost losing him to Nashville back in 2013, we're glad to see him in OC just a few days after his birthday (which is of course, New Year's Day).


Everything, that is, except Billy Joel's “Piano Man.” I know this because my brother had me request it. Shane turned to me, smiled and said, “I don't do that one.” Rumor has it, the man knows 2,000 songs and he doesn't do “Piano Man?” That seems odd seeing as how Phil Shane is the greatest lounge singer I've ever encountered and “Piano Man” is arguably the best lounge song ever written. Really, it just doesn't make sense. Then again, I am not the world's greatest lounge singer and Phil Shane is, so if Phil Shane doesn't do “Piano Man,” there's probably a good reason.

Luckily for people such as myself, Phil Shane not doing “Piano Man” isn't a big deal because not doing Billy Joel means more Elvis songs and, goddamn it, we all want more Elvis songs from Phil Shane. Seeing as how this performance was held at an Elvis-themed restaurant, you best believe he didn't disappoint as tunes such as “Suspicious Minds” (which I requested thankyouverymuch), “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Burning Love,” “Kentucky Rain,” “Return to Sender,” “Mystery Train,” “Trouble,” “If I Can Dream” “Viva Las Vegas,” “Can't Help Falling in Love” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” were performed. He also did lesser-known Elvis material that would bomb at your average gig. At Azteca, it was almost assumed Phil Shane would dig deep. Unsurprisingly, no one seemed to mind.

Other than Elvis songs, Phil Shane also ran through hits such as “Mustang Sally,” “America,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and his original “Love on the Internet.”

I'm not accustomed to being the second youngest person at a show (my brother was the youngest), which is nice for the ego, but it's also a strangely amazing experience I find only at Phil Shane shows. The man draws an eclectic crowd like Jackson Pollock threw colors on canvas and somehow it works for both the performer and the audience. Everyone — and I do mean everyone — in attendance was smiling, singing and dancing and sometimes the best way to forget about how miserable life can be is to sit in a room with people from various backgrounds and bond over lyrics such as “You bitch, you slut, you whore.”

I don't have the desire to see anyone or anything for four straight hours without a break. The fact that Phil Shane's blistering set felt more like 40 minutes and not four hours is a testament to the man's genius. I don't know how he does it, but if he bottled it, I'd buy it by the case.

Critical Bias: I don't believe in God. I believe in Elvis.

Overheard in the Crowd: “We love you, Elvis!”

Random Notebook Dump: If every show started at 7 p.m. and ended by 11, I'd go out a lot more often.

See also:
The 50 Best Things About the OC Music Scene
The 50 Worst Things About the OC Music Scene
The 25 Greatest OC Bands of All Time: The Complete List

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