The Errigle Inn, Belfast
13th April 2017
Let’s cut to the chase. It’s only April and I am calling this the gig of the year! I saw Alejandro Escovedo play in Whelan’s, Dublin five years ago, and had high expectations based on that show. These expectations were exceeded by some measure in a gig that had everything.
Escovedo has dabbled in various genres over his illustrious career; punk, folk, rock, blues, glam, Mexican, and country, even penning the music for a successful play. He has performed and worked with star names such as Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Chuck Prophet, Los Lobos, and Peter Buck from REM to name a few. Yet he is able to fuse all these influences and retain his own indelible stamp, and identity.
If you like your music powerful and impassioned, melodic, loud, and joyful then this your gig.
The evening opened with Don Antonio, a four-piece from Italy, who came back and performed as the band for the main attraction. Their opening number sounded like a cross between a Bolognese Shadows and the theme from ‘Peter Gunn’. Headed by Antonio Gramentieri, the crowd were treated to a very enjoyable mostly instrumental set aided by some comic asides
We don’t play Americana, we play Italiana!
After a short break, the always sartorially eloquent Alejandro took to the stage and launched into a blistering double salvo of ‘Can’t Make Me Run’ and ‘Shave The Cat’, which heavily featured Signore Gramentieri duelling with Al on guitar.
That the band was so tight tonight was quite incredible given that they had only met a month beforehand.
Alternating with the rock songs were softer ballads such as the memory of simpler times in his adopted home (for a while) town of Austin, Texas in ‘The Bottom Of The World’, and the touching hymn to departed friends, ‘Sister Lost Soul’. Equally beautiful was the aging punk’s advice to his young son conveyed in ‘Down In The Bowery’.
I hope you live long enough to forget half the stuff that they taught you.
But the high point of the night in a night of high points was his impassioned and personal takedown of Donald Trump. A proud American, with an equally proud Mexican heritage, Alejandro described how his family had emigrated to America seeking a better life, and how the large Escovedo family grabbed its opportunity and have given so much back through music to so many people. His father who passed away aged 93 would be one of the people Trump now seeks to remove from their country.
‘Always A Friend’ a firm fan-favourite since he performed it with Springsteen was given a vibrant outing. The intimate setting of the Errigle Inn was a perfect setting, and Jim Heaney and The Real Music Club have once again to be applauded for bringing quality music to this city.
The night ended with an absolutely astonishing take on Neil Young’s ‘Like A Hurricane’. It’s hard to believe this man is sixty-three.
To Belfast, Alejandro will always be a friend and hopefully, we will not have to wait another five years before we see him return.
As Alejandro says:
Por Vida, con amor!