Calexico @ Hamer Hall – Melbourne Arts Centre, Melbourne (Wed 2 Mar 2016)
I think the question that needs to be asked here, is how many times haven’t I seen Calexico?
My first Calexico show was back in 2003, and I’ve seen them on every Australian tour since. By my counting, this was my seventh Calexico show.
Twelve years a fan.
Tonight was my first one as a dad and my first Calexico show without my wife by my side. Yes, those two events are highly related.
We bought the tickets in the hope that we’d have babysitting sorted by now. The boy would be 13 months by the time this show rolled around, so we figured we’d be able to have a night off. Not to be, as the lad is well and truly too attached to his parents at the moment. No matter. I still had a great time, and Albertron-the-brother-in-law joined me.
Just so you’re all aware that fair is fair, you’ll be happy to know that wifey is currently dancing her ass off seeing Madonna at Rod Laver Arena. Apparently she’ll write a review for it, but I’m still waiting on a bunch from the last few years, including, but not limited to Nine Inch Nails, Queens of The Stone Age, Tori Amos and Nick Cave. Not that I’m counting or anything.
But I digress.
I love this room. It wonderful, and I’ve seen quite a few of my favourite artists here, including David Byrne and Mogwai. I’m seeing Jason Isbell here in a few weeks. Great room.
The last time Calexico toured, they did two Melbourne shows, and we went to both. The first was a sit-down affair at The Athenaeum Theatre followed by The Corner Hotel the next night. For anyone who doesn’t know- The Corner is most definitely NOT a sit-down venue. Of these two shows, The Corner sticks in my mind as being the better of the two, mainly because it was an on-your-feet gig.
But I digress, again.
Krista Polvere was the support tonight. I’d not heard of her before, so didn’t know what to expect.
She came on stage and annoyed me right from the start. She’d not tuned her guitar and started babbling on about Patti Smith for a good five minutes. Then she played.
This lady can sing. And she can play. There was some beautiful music in there, written with grace and maturity. Something I certainly didn’t expect from my first impressions.
She still did annoy me though. Lots of name dropping around Ryan Adams and a few other people. I have no issues with name dropping, if there’s context and these stories didn’t really seem to have any of that.
After a short break, Calexico took to the stage with the style and swagger that only Calexico can muster. Straight up I noticed that Martin Wenk wasn’t on stage. In our house, he is known as ‘Ze German’ and my wife has an enormous crush on him. Lucky we didn’t find a babysitter.
The show was fucking fantastic, but I’ve not seen a Calexico show that isn’t. There were definitely times when I felt that the band were fighting hard against a sit-down venue on a Wednesday night, but they still succeeded admirably. As a 40-year-old perennially tired parent, I certainly liked being able to sit down and watch with a beer in hand, although I daresay I would have enjoyed the show more had I been able to stand and dance.
Most of the favourites were in the set, and as usual, a heap that I didn’t recognise. Calexico have about a billion albums, and all of them are great.
If you don’t know them, know them.
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