Calexico front man Joey Burns is on fine form tonight, dressed for the ranch in faded jeans and checked shirt, he is all action, skipping to the mic to deliver his vocals, falling back hunched over his guitar, a stomping and a swinging. And given the flat out, pedal to the metal Americana rock'n'roll he and his band treat us to it is impossible not to feel those self same rushes.
They open with 'Pepito', an instrumental carnival of mariachi guitars and sweeping strings, featured on the new album (released Feb 10) Feast of Wire. Somewhat subdued on record, the live version is all up tempo thrills and we're off to a flyer. Momentum is maintained with a driving rendition of another newie, 'Guitar Waltz', Burns' voice resonant as he sings, "Prayed it would rain and submerge the whole of the western states". The sounds of the frontier combine gloriously on 'Quattro (World Drifts In)' where we have maracas, trumpets, and gently surging hooky country highs. 'Not Even Stevie Nicks' comes on as a banging all out rock fiesta. Then the velocity increases further, time flying by a mash of Love trumpets and homage's to the desert with its "snakes", "scorpions", and "gold-mines". The mood then changes courtesy of the masterfully malevolent 'Black Heart', a, homage to the dark side; it's crushingly loud, Burns cutting sonic swathes his electric guitar the scimitar. Kinda makes you wonder why nobody thought of combining Mogwai with Johnny Cash before.
Tremulous and thrilled riding home on the shimmering waves of 'Crystal Frontier', we dream of wide open spaces.
And so it's official; The Desert 'Rocks'.