Raul Malo

Raul Malo

A few thoughts on the Mavericks’ outstanding concert Friday night at the State Theatre in Minneapolis as part of their 30th anniversary tour.

  1. Lead singer Raul Malo made it clear that the band’s music can't be pigeonholed. Here is the Q&A he conducted with himself. Your friends ask: Who did you see? Answer: “The Mavericks.” Friend: Who the hell is that? What kind of music do they play? “Aw, bleep.” I’d categorize it as great music, a mix of pre-Beatles rock and pop with lots of Latin influences.
  2. Since they reunited in 2012 after an eight-year hiatus, I’ve dubbed the Mavericks America’s greatest live dance band. For two hours on Friday, they excited a full house of baby boomers in the same way Lizzo did with a younger generation a few blocks away at the Armory in downtown Minneapolis. Even if you're dance-challenged, it’s hard to resist moving your hips, feet or arms to the infectious rhythms of the Mavericks whether the vibe is Mexican, tango, R&B, rock, blues, country, western swing or unclassifiable.
  3. Flashy guitarist Eddie Perez took a back seat when it came to solos this time around, but the solo spotlight shined on suave, hammy and inspiring accordionist Michael Guerra.
  4.   Malo, 54,  was in fine voice, showcasing his soaring Orbison highs (and growls), Elvis-like hiccups and Louie Armstrong-ish scatting.
  5. The peppy opener with sad lyrics “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down,” the breathtaking acoustic “O What a Thrill,” and the Western swing with mariachi horns “There Goes My Heart” were favorites, as usual. But it was the covers that were the highlights: “Blue Moon” with Malo as a one-man doo wop group; Freddy Fender’s country chestnut “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” with words in both English and Spanish; John Anderson’s country classic “Swingin’,” reimagined as a swinging R&B tune with horns, and Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” funked up with Memphis-like horns and mashed up with Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright” and Aretha’s “Respect.”  

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