Thursday, 24 June 2010

No Country For Young Men - Alejandro Escovedo at The Borderline

Alejandro Escovedo is introducing one of his new songs, ‘Down In The Bowery’, explaining it’s written for his teenage son Paris - “an angry young man, graffiti artist and punk rocker” and recounting the occasion he asked he him what he thought of his music. Paris said “it’s old man’s music”. Alejandro persisted “you mean old-timey music?”. “No” replied Paris “old music for old people!”. Alejandro loves Paris for it, and the London audience do too, knowing that in his dad Paris has the exemplar of how getting older doesn’t mean ceasing to be young.

A few years back there was a real fear that Alejandro might be off to see Elvis, and so there’s a real joy pervading the Borderline, a club once a second home to many of this crowd, that he’s back and looking so well. Dressed in a dark paisley jacket, a red western shirt, very skinny black jeans, and winkle pickers he’s every inch the dude. He’s accompanied by guitar-master David Pulkingham, the bass of Bobby Daniel – one of those fine southern bassists who’s undemonstrative, totally unflashy and totally rock-solid - and long, long-time drummer Hector Munoz; Hector’s so straight there that you have this transient delusion that they just switched the drum machine on, and then he takes off and you know no machine has that intelligence.

This ‘record release party’, as Alejandro dubs it, is a wild electric show. The acoustic guitar comes out for only three or four numbers, and there’s no strings in sight. I wrote down the word ‘furious’ about five times; all in relation to the frenzied guitar interplay between Alejandro and David first manifested in ‘This Bed Is Getting Crowded’ and perhaps reaching its monstrous climax during the encore of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. The former is one of a number from the new record Street Songs Of Love, and these and a selection from 2008’s Real Animal form the bulk of the set.

Thus there’s quite a few Chuck Prophet co-writes; most notably the beautiful ‘Sister Lost Soul’, initially written with Jeffrey Lee Pierce in mind but tonight sung for Stephen Bruton, and ‘Chelsea Hotel ‘78’ played with an abandon that certainly correlated to the wildness of that time. Also, of course, ‘Always A Friend’; the tune that’s had him sharing stages with Bruce Springsteen in recent years.

‘Street Songs’ itself is a little gem marking the creation of the new album, road-tested and literally built on the stage of Austin’s Continental Club over a series of weekly gigs. The street he sings about is South Congress where the Continental sits opposite the Austin Motel along from Mexican diners, antique clothes stores, and parking lots full of whirls of colour and Texas nightlife. It would be hubristic to compare the atmosphere off Charing Cross Road with that of the Continental (none of those divine waitresses for starters) but it was a gloriously evocative night and one of those shows that was sheer joy from start to finish.

Set List (as played)

‘Always A Friend’
‘This Bed Is Getting Crowded’
‘Tender Heart’
‘Everybody Loves Me’
‘Sister Lost Soul’
‘Down In The Bowery’
‘Chelsea Hotel ‘78’
‘Street Songs’
‘Real Animal’

‘After The Meteor Showers’
‘All The Young Dudes’
‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’
‘Fort Worth Blue’
‘Sensitive Boys’

Thanks to Amy Djarf for the photo, and Emma Tricca for the plate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your review. Awesome set but thought the crowd was very, very lethargic considering the energy coming from those onstage.