The first thing that strikes you when you walk into The Allen room is the wall of glass and the incredible view East across 59th St. The Stage is set up in front of the giant window. There are 20 or so tables set up on the floor and a rounded orchestra wrapping the floor. For me, it now surpasses Joe Pub as my favorite room in New York. The sightlines are fantastic and the sound is immaculate. I would see ANYTHING at The Allen Room. It's spectacular. It’s inside the Time Warner Center at Columbus circle. The restaurants in the place are all pretentious and ridiculously expensive, but Rose Hall and Jazz At Lincoln Center are exquisite.
Calexico has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. I know they're from the Southwest; I know that they play numerous instruments; I know that their sound is distinctive but reminiscent of the past. Their albums, with its strange art, added to the mystery. I always thought they were somewhat subversive, dark, strange, and edgy. Even the show I saw years back at Irving Plaza kept the mystery alive. It was dark. I was wasted. They fed the mystery with an eerie, off-putting show.
All the mystery disappeared at show last night (the second of a two-set gig as part of Jazz At Lincoln Center's American Songbook series). There they were bathed in light. We were up close, nothing was hidden. Wow, they're just a bunch of hard working musicians from Tucson. Not the Southwest. Tucson.
They sounded great, no doubt. The incredible sound helped bring out every nuisance. But with the mystery gone, the just seemed like another band. Not in a bad way, you know, they had their charismatic and talented front man (Joey Burns who sang nearly every song in a whisper), solid rhythm section, and nice guitar work. They put on a great show, but they played songs. The songs had strange titles but they were just songs and for me Calexico was beyond just songs. It was all so nice, so clean. It just wasn't what I expected, not in a bad way though.
For most of the show they shared the stage with numerous guest including members of Beirut who added sax, violins and other instrumentation. They brought out a mariachi musician, Johnny Contreras to add guitar and some vocal. They brought out a Spanish lady to sing. It was fun, a celebration but predictable.
Overall, I am very glad I went.
Here's the set list from the late show:
Yours & Mine
Service & Repair
Grady - fantastic review! I've heard many great things about that room as well. Glad you had a good time.
Sounds like that was the late show in NYC for the evening, nice review!
Encore was Alone Again Or - A Love song that the Damned covered.
Grady - excellent review and nice read!
>>>Encore was Alone Again Or - A Love song that the Damned covered.
Calexico do a damn fine job covering that tune.
I've seen Calexico 5-6 times and I would say that like most bands, as time goes on they are leaning more & more toward a mainstream sound, and away from their more haunting, trippy sound that developed through their earlier work with Howie Gelb and Giant Sand.
I'ts understandable, and probably due at least in part to the old "sell-out" mentality; they are not "kids" anymore and have house payments and such so they try to make more pop orientated songs & albums.
They are still a great band with a great sound; my main complaint about what they are doing these days is that their great pedal steel player is playing MUCH less PS and more guitar, which makes for more of a general rock sound, and on the new album there is very little pedal steel, which just seems to me that they are trying for a more pop sound.
Either way, they are really good, so whatever their doing is going to be good; the drummer in particular is great without being over-the-top.
I love 'em.