Live Review

Calexico, O2 ABC, Glasgow

Calexico are still a great, talented band but perhaps they have become a little too comfortable.

Tonight, founder members of Arizona’s Calexico – singer-guitarist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino - form the nucleus of a seven piece multi-instrumental band in front of a large and mature crowd at the ABC.

Their time having largely been taken up with soundtrack work between their last studio album and 2012’s ‘Algiers’, it’s been a while since they played in Scotland. All that screen music seems to have opened up even more space in their already cinematic sound. Their signature yelps and mariachi brass are still in place, as is an accordion, a lap steel and the occasional reference to cacti, but there is a classic rock feel about tonight’s show. Indeed, ‘Splitter’, from ‘Algiers’, abounds with Springsteen-isms and ‘Dead Moon’, a song from 2001 which has only seen the light of day recently, has the stately sweep of the Eagles’ ‘Journey Of The Sorcerer’ (aka The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Theme to our geekier readers.)

‘Para’ – another song from ‘Algiers’ - pales a little in comparison to older, sparkier material like ‘El Picador’ from their 2000 breakthrough album, ‘Hot Rail’. Jacob Valenzuela takes up lead vocals on the Spanish songs, switching to trumpet and maracas, garnering extra applause for his efforts.

‘Man Made Lake’ from ‘Carried To Dust’ is all loose drum rolls and buried riffs. A band this polished don’t provide many surprises, except perhaps the shades of Fleetwood Mac sneaking through - ‘Not Even Stevie Nicks’ segues into a twangy cover of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. But it’s sure to be appreciated by the grown up crowd who are at least glued to the stage and not their phones. ‘Two Silver Trees’’ twinkly keyboard riff and chorus mark it out from the subdued lounge feel of the newer songs. ‘Crystal Frontier’, the stand out track of the band’s oeuvre, is a little deflated by a low key opening, which strips it of the dusty drama of the original intro. This rearrangement builds to some much needed tension, the brass flourish and stomp beat the kick the set has been needing all night.

Calexico are still a great, talented band but perhaps they have become a little too comfortable. There doesn’t feel like there is much at stake here. An accomplished cover of Love’s ‘Alone Again Or’ brings out their inner show band and has a few audience members breaking out ‘wedding reception’ dance moves.

Frontman Joey Burns is unfailingly polite, but seems to have accepted a bet on how many times he can say the word ‘Glasgow’ in one night, he manages to name check the city between almost every song. At least they know where they are. ‘Guero Canelo’ has a party feel but just as they’re starting to loosen up, they play a couple more well honed songs and the show is over.

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