Homesickness ran high at last night’s Calexico show as it quickly became clear that I was not the only member of the audience from Tucson. Hoots and hollers of T-town pride sprang from all corners as the band played a particularly enthusiastic set, due in part perhaps to their just having come from a show at home after a stint in the UK. Sound quality and beer price issues aside, Webster Hall actually provided quite the nice space this time ‘round. Their sparkly backdrop evoked a still summer night in a town famous for its lack of light pollution and resulting star visibility, bringing a bit of the ‘ol Southwest to our harsh Metropolis. Joey Burns’ boyish vocals seemed to drip with a general warmth as he expertly presented newer songs and added flourishes to classic favorites.
Indeed, he and Calexico’s other members slid through their fantastic set with a healthy sampling from mostly Feast of Wire, Garden Ruin, and the very recently released Carried to Dust. John Convertino seemed to float among the backdrop on his little drum platform as he alternated between spooky, thoughtful accompaniments and beat-driven rockers. Jacob Valenzuela shook a fervent maraca and sung out mariachi yelps that were so perfect they sounded pre-recorded, and let’s not forget his fine trumpet playing. Valenzuela took vocal lead for the new “Inspiración” that carries the signature Calexico sound while adding a slinky dance number feel despite its rather sad lyrics. Also off Carried to Dust, “Two Silver Trees” was quite strong live, with its careful blend of Southwest and Far East. The audience seemed to particularly enjoy favorites like “Sunken Waltz” and “Across The Wire,” songs that are immediately catchy and build to climaxes that really let the band wail. Sure I may be a bit biased, but let me honestly say that these guys are awesome.