Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys – Springfield, IL – September 16, 2010
I have never witnessed a very good show in my hometown. Sure, there’s the odd good punk band that comes through the all ages club and there are a couple of decent local bands (NIL8, and my friend is in a pretty killer Billy Joel tribute band, Silly Joel), but no one very close to mainstream popularity. That is if I don’t count the State Fair, it had Cheap Trick this year. Missed that too. Alejandro isn’t quite as well-known as Cheap Trick, but I was very excited and intrigued as to what it would be like to see him in my small city.
My issue with Springfield is not the city itself, the problem comes from its residents. You really just want to throw rocks at the general downtown bar crowd, and this bar (Bar None) is generally a hot bed for such folks. I didn’t want a legend like Alejandro to come here and witness stupidity incarnate. Alas, I was just paranoid, they kept their shit together for the night. I think because Alejandro Escovedo is THE coolest person in the world, as it has been stated before, he was able to quell the loudmouths early. After a touching story that introduced the quietest number of the night, said loudmouths were extinguished with him saying “You know, I don’t like to tell people to shut up, but shut up. I didnt drive all the way here to listen to you talk”. He was our best friend for the rest of the night.
The set was heavy on the newest record, Street Songs of Love, which sounded amazing live. I mean, amazing. “Tender Heart” was particularly house rocking, as was the single “Anchor”. Alejandro and his astonishing guitar partner, David Pluckingham, alternated between the heavy, nasty electrics and the pretty picking acoustics with constant success. The Sensitive Boys have to be the tightest backing band in the world, like a more modest E Street Band.
The first highlight of the night came with the first group of acoustic numbers. Alejandro told a very touching and funny story of his father and one of a good friend who passed recently to cancer. After the heartbreaking instrumental I mentioned earlier, the Boys went into a decidedly more dreamy version of “Rosalie”, my personal favorite off of the perfect Man Under the Influence. A very funny story prefaced “Down in the Bowery” which Alejandro wrote for his son.
When the heavy weapons were brought back out, Mr. Escovedo had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Not moving on until he was satisfied with the call and response to “Chelsea Hotel 78” or “Castanets”. The best moments of the set had to be “Always a Friend” and the insane “I Was Drunk”. I don’t know if i can say enough about that song. The set ended with the bands cover of “Beast of Burden” after which Alejandro and company walked outside of the little bar and talked to fans. I shook their hands, baffled by his humility. One of the artist for which I have so much respect for, I left with somehow much more.