One of the things I love most about Calexico is the band's tremendous versatility. They've backed numerous other musicians on incredible albums (Richard Buckner, Neko Case), collaborated with others (Iron & Wine, Howe Gelb) and just generally become some of the best go-to musicians around.
Their versatility certainly extends to their own performances as well. The last two shows I've seen - less than two months apart - couldn't have been more different.
The first was a park show, drawing 10,000 people in an all-ages picnic atmosphere. It was one of the full mariachi shows, with Luz de Luna starting out the nearly three-hour set and joining Calexico on state for several songs later. It was rowdy and joyous, full of i-yi-yi's and a let's keep going vibe that ran well after dark.
Next was last Friday, when they played to 800 sweater-clad people inside a performing arts theatre. There were no mariachi players and the vibe was more sedate. A friend sat in on piano (not one of Calexico's most typical sounds) for the entire show - a more acoustic affair with several top-notch cover songs and a new one, "Absent Afternoon, which Joey Burns said was inspired by the funeral processions driving past his new home downtown.
The kind folks over at TucsonScene.com were kind enough to record part of the show and put it up on youtube. Below is a cover of Dylan's "Goin' to Acapulco," which features prominently in the "I'm Not There" film and earns Burns and John Convertino screen credits as "Brass Band Player #1" and "Brass Band Player #2." Before the song, Joey asked for all the reverb he could get out of the sound man, which hardly surprising since Jim James of My Morning Jacket sings the tune for the film and soundtrack.