Calexico, Wanderers @ The Gov, Adelaide 17/1/2019

The support tonight was local band WANDERERS who were absolutely wonderful. Tonight we had a three piece led by frontman Dusty who is a great singer and guitarist with some incredible riffs ably backed by the solid rhythm section. WANDERERS sound reminds you of 70s soul music. Some of the highlights were Loco and Off My Back which I have heard many times on Spotify. They did two amazing covers as well. The first was Let Em In by Wings which sounded like George Harrison was on bluesy slide guitar and then Windows Are Rolled Down by Amos Lee which was glorious. Later on in the night when WANDERERS were thanked for being support we found out that Calexico had requested these particular covers from the band. WANDERERS recently played two brilliant sold out shows at the Grace Emily and I would highly recommend seeing them before they get too famous and the tickets are expensive.

Calexico arrive on stage at The Gov on a hot night and proceed to thoroughly entertain the appreciative crowd for two hours. This US band has played at the Gov twice before and has done two double sets at Womadelaide in 2010 and 2016. In my opinion, this is a band that never disappoints and is the reason I never miss them when they come to Adelaide. They were in town to promote their latest brilliant album The Thread That Keeps and the twentieth anniversary of their second album The Black Light. Calexico has only two members that have been there from the start, Joey Burns on vocals and guitar and John Convertino on drums. The duo has had many excellent musicians come and go over the years to complete their albums and tours.

Early in the set, Joey asked us if the audience were ready to party and on this sweltering night they were!. After a little nudging of the crowd for us to be involved early on, there were many occasions after that the crowd were dancing, howling and clapping along to their excellent songs without asking.

They told us that they were taken to Cleland Wildlife Park earlier in the day by the promoters and this was the third tour they were taken there. I wonder if this all the promoters think we have that is worthwhile going to during the day as I have heard many artists saying they are taken there.

They started their set with Dead in the Water, Voices in the Field and the Under the Wheels all from the latest album and after that they would alternate tracks from this album and what I would call their greatest hits from most of their older albums. They are named for the border town of Calexico, California and it is the perfect name for the band as their musical style often combines US rock and country with Mexican mariachi and Latin sounds.

Early in the set, they played Cumbia de Donde which was used in the Womadelaide advertisements in 2016 and was my favourite for the night. This was the song that really got the Gov crowd dancing to its infectious brass riffs. At one point Joey starts singing a song that seemed to use some lyrics from Neil Young’s Heart of Gold but I could not properly identify it and this then lead into a blistering version of Minas de Cobre (For Better Metal) At the end of the song Joey leans over to a crowd member and states “did you like that first bit, I made it all up on the spot” Before the set finished we were treated with a song called Alone Again Or which is a cover of a song from 1967 from the band Love.

Between songs, someone called out a request and Joey stated he could play a few seconds of it but ultimately played the whole song, the band not missing a beat and joining in seamlessly. The final song of the set was Crystal Frontier which showcased Joey’s warm singing voice which keeps improving over the years. It is the standout track from the Hot Rail album and is a fast, brass-laden adventure through mariachi land.

Calexico came back out after a lot of cheering and clapping to perform Naõ Queiras which was sung by Raul who was one of the new members and accompanied by the audience howling like dingoes during the chorus at Joey’s request. They played the brassy catchy Corona and then left the very pleased crowd with Another Space from the latest album. Calexico made the audience forget about the disgusting heat outside and brought us into a live music atmosphere none of us wanted to leave. It’s what you want from a live show. This was a most joyous experience and an early contender for gig of the year.

Live Review By Richard De Pizzol

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