Image by: Ginny C Photography
Concert Reviews

Concert Review: Calexico Mixes It Up With New Songs And Old Classics

Where: Powerstation, Auckland NZ
When: 29 Jan 2019
Marty Duda
Calexico - Full Performance (Live on KEXP)

Five and a half years after they last performed at the Powerstation, the seven members of Calexico rolled into the Auckland venue with an updated sound.

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Delaney Davidson

But before we get to Calexico, I have to rave on for a bit about opening act Delaney Davidson. In short, he was terrific. Delaney is a one man band able to generate the dirtiest blues riffs imaginable. He’d lay down a groove by thumping his acoustic guitar, loop it, then add a snarling guitar riff and an overdriven, distorted vocal. His take on Robert Johnson’s Hellhound On My Trail sounded like he was channelling the devil himself.

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And the crowd responded…you could see them being drawn toward the stage. Hey, it takes quite a bit to get the early crowd to leave the bar and pay attention to the music, but Delaney was not to be ignored.

Now, on to Calexico.

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It’s been a while since Joey BurnsJohn Convertino and the boys rode into town. Their previous show at the Powerstation in September of 2013 was an undisputed triumph. But it seems things have changed, and the venue was only half full for the Arizona-based rockers. This might have something to do with the band’s most recent album, The Thread That Keeps Us, which finds the group steering away from their Tex-Mex roots and heading toward a more mainstream indie rock direction.

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Sure enough, the band’s set opened with a dark, growling guitar riff, and it was only when the horns chimed in that Dead In The Water recalled the classic Calexico sound. 

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We were treated to three new songs before Joey and the band retreated back to 2003’s Feast Of Wire with the tune, Across The Wire. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief from the audience when they played older numbers such as Stray, Cumbia de Donde or Inspiracion.

One surprise was a cover of Echo & The Bunnymen’s Killing Moon, sung by guitarist Brian Lopez.

Despite the low turnout and tepid reaction to new material, Joey Burns seemed very happy to be here. At one point he offered choice between Fortune Teller or Sunken Waltz and the latter was quickly selected by the crowd.

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And after a version of Love’s Alone Again Or, which has become a staple of their repertoire, Burns changed his mind on the closing song, choosing to play Music Box instead of Crystal Frontier because he was “feeling the love in the room”.

That love did make itself known as the band returned for a three-song encore that included Nao Queiras, sung by Rauil Marques, then a very catchy Another Space from The Thread That Keeps Us, before finishing with Guero Canelo from 2003’s Feast Of Wire.

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By the end, the indie rock pretensions had been forgiven and there was dancing on the floor.

Radio 13 thanks and credits Ginny from Ginny C Photography for all the images featured on this article. 

Calexico set list:

  1. Dead In The Water
  2. Voices In The Field
  3. Under The Wheels
  4. Across The Wire
  5. The Town & Miss Lorraine
  6. Stray
  7. Cumbia de Donde
  8. End Of The World With You
  9. Killing Moon
  10. Minas de Cobre (For Better Metal)
  11. Inspiracion
  12. Victor Jara’s Hands
  13. Sunken Waltz
  14. Flores y Tamales
  15. Alone Again Or
  16. Music Box
  17. Nao Queiras
  18. Another Space
  19. Guero Canelo


Written By: Marty Duda