Alejandro Escovedo Trio/ Chuck Prophet; March 8, 2007; High Noon Saloon
Alejandro was just in Madison in November, and it was a great show. But since I am one of those people who think he's good, not great (I know, blasphemy), I probably would have skipped this show. Except that, like so many times before, I couldn't miss the opening act. Perhaps only the Pernice Brothers have a better track record than Alejandro for choosing openers, and they kind of blew it with the love `em or hate `em Elvis Perkins. Past shows have featured David Garza, the Drive-by Truckers, Jon Dee Graham, and Jon Langford, while the last show was opened by an un-missable solo Robbie Fulks. Tonight he went one better with a solo Chuck Prophet, who is usually thought of as a great electric guitar player with a stellar band.
Prophet ranks third on my "cool list" behind only Andrew Bird and Joe Terry, and tonight he made a strong case for moving up. He claimed he hadn't played a solo acoustic show in over a year, but it was hard to believe him as his amazing opening set just got better and better. I sat there the entire time with the biggest, goofiest smile on my face. He introduced a song from his last record Age of Miracles by saying it addressed one of the biggest questions of the universe. Suddenly serious, he added that he wasn't sure we were going to be able to handle it before playing the delightfully goofy "You Did (Bomp Shooby Dooby Bomp)." Asking questions like "Who put the bop in the bop shebop shebop?" or "Who put the ram in the ram a lama ding dong?" Infectious and ridiculous, it was anything but profound.
Most songs came from his last two solo records, No Other Love (2002) and Miracles (2004), both of which are pretty amazing. He opened with the syrupy sweet "Just to See You Smile," and included "I Bow Down and Pray to Every Woman I See." The latter included an uncomfortably hilarious lecture on premature ejaculation. He finished his far-too-short set with the modest hit "Summertime Thing" which got regular play on Triple M back when I still listened to the radio. Thankfully it seemed everyone was as enchanted as I was and the crowd-demanded encore brought him back. Since I was right in the front row and very visible, I had resisted the temptation to video even though I was dying to. When he said that the last song would be "After the Rain," I couldn't resist any longer. He told me after the set that he had been on his best behavior, "I saw that camera," he said with a smile.
I hadn't had much sleep this week and in comparison to Chuck's giddy set, Alejandro just made me sleepy. Every song was at least five minutes long, and even though they were all lovely and Susan Voelz's violin enchanting, I was ready for the show to be over long before it was. He covered all the fan favorites from "Rosalie" to "Castanets" to "I Got Drunk" (a personal favorite of mine), but it wasn't until he called Chuck up for the encore that it really became interesting. They have been writing songs together recently, and these were two of the new ones. Alejandro handed his guitar over to Chuck, and directed the songs, leaning into the microphone for his parts, leaning back when he wanted Chuck to sing, all the while allowing space for the violin and guitar to solo. The song was created right before our eyes, and that was a pretty cool thing to see.
Bottom Line: start time 8 pm end time 11:00 pm
Worth the drive? it's not every night that I smile like that for an entire set
Reason to move Chuck up the cool list? that orange blazer for one
Reason Joe Terry doesn't have to worry? he's Joe Terry, Andrew Bird on the other hand should watch his back