Thursday night was a homecoming of sorts for Tucson based Calexico, as they returned to the city where they recorded their most recent work, Algiers. Being so close to the city, yet far enough away as to not to get completely engrossed seemed to be the right mixture of circumstances the band needed to record their latest work. Thursday night’s show was a great mixture of this album as well as their previous works, and I ended up getting a couple good photos in the process.
Growing up in Fort Worth, TX, you can’t help but hear “Tejano” music. Needless to say, I am not a fan. I liken it to Cajon music in New Orleans, which to me is only tolerable in small doses. But Calexico’s Tejano roots hold near and dear to their music and translated beautifully live. Maybe because it’s not straight up Tejano, but rather a mix of it and jazz and new country, all blended into one. The use of horns, Spanish vocals, and accordions fit well together with the lap steel, acoustic guitar, and upright bass. Even with all those instruments on stage at once, it never comes across as cluttered, but rather well defined and concise.
The evening started off with Canada based Bahamas taking the stage to a space crowd. Afie Jurvanen and his stripped down quartet — himself on guitar, a drummer, and two background singers — did their best to entertain the crowd, passing the moments between songs by lamented on his love of the city and his past experiences here. Toward the end of the set the band was joined on stage by John Convertino, Calexico’s drummer, to play on “Never Again,” a sobering tail of love and loss. The set ended with a beautiful rendition “Lost in the Light.”
After a quick set change Calexico took to the stage and launched into “Epic,” the first track off Algiers. This set the bar high for the rest of the evening and was matched at every turn. It is hard to judge if there was a crowd favorite as the audience reacted with enthusiasm with every song played. To say this band is multi-talented would be a drastic understatement. Practically every member held more than one role. Toward the end of the set, Joey Burns invited Craig Klein and Greg Hicks of Bonerama to the stage to play the set out including the encore. Personal favorites included “Fortune Teller” and “Two Silver Tree.”
Across the Wire
Minas De Cobre
Maybe on Monday
Two Silver Trees
Sinner in the Sea
The Vanishing Mind