Foxwoods Review, Part One
As you've no doubt gathered from
the other reviews, the Saturday night
show was a real treat -- the band was tight, well-rehearsed, and very
energetic. They rocked!!! I thought it was a pretty bold move
(though not suprising for The Mavericks) to use the show primarily as
a vehicle for introducing the songs from the new CD. It was a lot
like one of those "new release" parties that performers typically
throw for record company executives and industry professionals to
introduce the new songs; at one point during the show Raul gave the
audience a wonderful compliment by saying that The Mavs specifically
chose Foxwoods to kick off their tour and try out the new material
because the fans here in the CT area have always been so great
whenever they've played here. Robert's announcement that they'd mostly
be playing the new stuff was met with some groans of protest from the
audience, which prompted Raul to respond "Take a sedative! You'll get
your moneys' worth!" As far as Lynn and I were concerned, we got much
more than our moneys' worth -- this was one of those shows you just
had to be there for! "Trampoline" is gonna be AWESOME, folks.......
The week preceding the show was
a nightmare for us -- Lynn's mom wound
up in the hospital with congestive heart failure -- her second bout in
the past two years -- and the weather reports were making it sound
like we'd be getting hit with some major snow for the weekend. We
were convinced that we'd either be spending Saturday night at the
hospital, or that the show would get cancelled because of the weather.
As it turned out, Lynn's mom's condition improved pretty quickly and
she was able to go home by Wednesday, and the winter storm -- which
turned out to be pretty mild along the CT coast -- had passed by
Friday morning. It finally looked like we'd really be going Friday
afternoon, when we received a phone call from Joya to confirm that we
were on the M&G list for Saturday, and to advise us that the band was
changing the procedure a bit by holding the M&G's before rather than
after the show, a decision the band had made a day or two earlier.
Joya explained that Raul is frequently absent from the M&G's because
he's exhausted after a show, and that he would be more inclined to
meet with fans earlier. Joya told us to be at the theater an hour
before the show, and an announcement regarding the M&G would be made
some time before showtime. (This proved not to be the case, at least
for the Foxwoods shows -- the M&G's were held after the shows on
Friday & Saturday. Raul was present at both! More on that later....)
We arrived at the theater by
6 p.m. (for a 7:00 show) and found our
seats, which were in the first row of the "auditorium" section,
directly over the sound board, where we were able to take a sneak peek
at the set list:
Dance the Night Away
Tell Me Why
I Should Know
Someone Should Tell Her
To Be With You
I've Got This Feeling
Fool No. 1
I Hope You Want Me To
Save A Prayer
Bring Me Down
We were thrilled to see that
they were doing so much of the new CD.
The band stuck to the set list for the most part, with a few changes
made during the show. After I copied the list, we spotted Greg
standing up in the section to our right & went over to finally meet
after a year or so of corresponding via Ellen's list and the current
RTML. We waved to Susanna, Carol (who came up to say hello) & crew
way down at one of the tables immediately in front of the stage (can't
wait to read your reviews!!!), and Greg filled us in on the previous
night's show and his interview with Robert earlier that day until the
auditorium started filling up; we then went back to our seats to wait
for the show to start. An announcement was made instructing fan club
members and people with backstage passes to come down to the left
front of the stage after the show, the lights went down, and The
Mavericks were introduced!!!
As they kicked off the set with
the uptempo, Latin-flavored "Dance the
Night Away," it was immediately clear that this show was gonna be
something different and very special. With the new CD, The Mavericks
are definitely taking their music and their live shows to the next
level. In addition to the core band -- Raul, Robert, Nick, Paul and
the unofficial "fifth Maverick," the inimitable Jerry Dale -- they've
added a four-piece horn section sporting flamenco dancer shirts,
introduced by Raul as "The Havana Horns" ("They're not really from
Havana," he joked, "but those shirts -- what the hell else could we
call them?") along with Jamie Hanna on guitar, percussion & backup
vocals. Of the opening song, suffice it to say that trying to keep
your feet still while listening to this could be dangerous.
Next up was "Tell Me Why," a
slower, bluesy scorcher with some tasty
guitar licks from Nick, big horns and a strong chorus. This song is
very reminiscent of John Lennon's "I'm Losing You," from the "Double
"I Should Know" and "Someone
Should Tell Her" showed exactly what Greg
meant in his review of the new CD regarding the Beatles influence on
the new music -- it's the return of the "British Invasion" of the
sixties, with a detour through Cuba. These songs could have easily
fit on the soundtrack to "A Hard Days Night!"
Admitting to the audience that
he was still very nervous having not
played for a year, Robert made some remark I didn't quite get about
needing to knock a few walls down. Raul said something like "Yeah?
We can knock some walls down," and led the band in a smokin',
instrumental jazz version of "Sentimental Journey."
Robert then introduced the first
U.S. single off the new release, "To
Be With You," which seems to be the closest thing on the new CD to the
traditional Mavericks sound -- very Roy Orbison, in the same vein as
"O What A Thrill." From the record company's standpoint, it's
probably a wise choice for the first single; "To Be With You" bridges
the gap nicely between "Music for All Occasions" and "Trampoline," and
will hopefully ease country radio into accepting the rest of the
album. Lynn leaned over to me during this song to say "Wow, that's
GORGEOUS......" I think she wants to get married again so we can use
it for our wedding song!
Next up was "I've Got This Feeling,"
which has a very Phil
Spector/Righteous Brothers sound, especially in the big harmonies and
horn arrangement for the chorus. There's an old Bee Gees song this
also kind of reminds me of, though I can't recall the title (maybe "I
Can't See Nobody".....)
Robert then went into a fairly
rambling introduction of Raul's
accoustic set, telling the audience it was a staple of Mavericks shows
that he hoped would always be there, and explaining that this was how
he first heard Raul sing when they first met, until Raul finally
"Have you taken your medication today?"
"Yeah -- I took my grandmother's medication, I think I've taken
Robert left the stage to Raul,
who sang an absolutely stunning
"Volver, Volver" (replacing the solo accoustic rendition of "Fool No.
1" he did during Friday night's set; "Volver" drew a very enthusiastic
response from the audience) before introducing another song from the
new CD, "Dream River." Raul explained that the song was recently
chosen by Robert Redford to be in his new movie, THE HORSE WHISPERER,
and made a remark to the effect of "Hopefully, they won't slow it down
to where you can't hear it and use it in a scene where people are
floating in space," a reference to how The Mavs' rendition of "Blue
Moon" was lost in the APOLLO 13 soundtrack. The remark seemed lost on
most of the audience. In any case, "Dream River" was just beautiful.
My guess is that this song probably started as a lullabye for Raul's
children, Victor and Dino -- it has that kind of sweetness.
The band came back out for "I
Hope You Want Me To," a very danceable
song with some nice latin percussion. The Beatles meet Herb Alpert &
the Tijuana Brass and Tito Puente on the "Magical Mystery Tour" bus,
complete with some psychedelic keyboard licks and sitar
sounds.....this is GREAT. If the new CD is promoted properly, this
song can be a big crossover hit.......
The band finished off the new
material with "Delores," a song with a
swinging, 1920's feel which Raul sang through a megaphone (the
audience loved this), and "Save a Prayer," a rollicking, rocking
The Mavericks left the stage,
then came back out a few moments later
for the encore. "You've made it all the way through the new stuff,"
Raul announced, "so now we're gonna play some of the old stuff for
you," then launched into the opening guitar riff to "What A Crying
Shame." This was followed by a superb rendition of "It's Not
Unusual," with Raul doing a flawless Tom Jones vocal (really, is there
anything the man can't do?), then an extended version of "All You Ever
Do is Bring Me Down," with some very cool horn arrangements added to
the instrumental solos. They finished things off with a high-octane
rendition of "La Mucura."
As usual, the live set featured
plenty of Raul's trademark humor -- at
one point, a female audience member screamed out "I love you, Raul!,"
to which he responded with mock surprise, "Mom???" Later, another
audience member in the upper reaches of the auditorium called out
"Play "Rancho Grande!", whereupon Raul looked up and said "Don't
jump!" before remarking, "I remember MY first beer......just kidding,
just kidding....that's really my dad......" He and Robert could
probably star in their own sitcom!
Overall, Lynn and I both found
this to be a truly memorable show, and
we absolutely LOVE the new music. Country radio may have a hard time
accepting it, and it may ultimately alienate some country fans. On
the other hand, there's a lot of potential for the new songs to cross
over into the adult contemporary market. The material is strong
enough for this to be HUGE if it's promoted properly and finds the
right audience. I can't help but wonder if Mavericks shows at smaller
venues like Foxwoods may soon be a thing of the past......
Stay tuned for Part Two -- The Meet & Greet!