If the sly and spry Alejandro Escovedo proved anything with his raucous show Tuesday night, it's that age ain't nothing but a number.
The 59-year-old Texan led his band The Sensitive Boys through a night of straightforward, high-energy rock & roll that kept the State Room dance floor full in front of the stage, and a smile on the face of a frontman clearly having a blast playing his new music.
The set relied heavily on his most recent albums, 2008's Real Animal and the new Street Songs of Love, and Escovedo opened the show with a barrage of heavy guitar-oriented tunes from those albums: "Always a Friend," "This Bed Is Getting Crowded," "Anchor" and "Tender Heart."
It was a wonderfully effective slap in the face for the fans, announcing to all that this was going to be a rock show. While past Escovedo tours incorporated strings and horns and backup singers, this night would be all about Escovedo, guitarist David Pulkingham, drummer Hector Munoz and bassist Bobby Daniel. No frills, just a band giving its all in service to some of the best songs of Escovedo's career.
After that initial blast, it was hard to imagine Escovedo and Co. could keep up such a torrid pace. They did that and more, with Escovedo chatting up the crowd about his pre-show meal at Red Iguana and his long-running relationship with the restaurant's Ramon Cardenas (R.I.P.). Escovedo talked about how Cardenas would always show up at his Zephyr Club gigs and demand certain songs, as well as a visit to the restaurant.
"Ramon was always trying to get me to connect with my people in a way that I hadn't before," Escovedo said, clearly reveling in the memory of his most rabid Utah fan.
As the show progressed, through songs like "Fort Worth Blue," "Rosalee" and "Street Song," Escovedo continued ripping through potent guitar lines, his voice in fine form. His battles with hepatitis from a decade ago are clearly in the past; he looked healthy, moved with energy, and his razor-thin frame was up to the task of carrying a nearly two-hour show, and look good doing it.
Among the other highlights: the new "Down In The Bowery," a powerhouse ballad written for his musician son Paris, "Chelsea Hotel '78," "Real As An Animal" and a massive singalong of "Beast of Burden" that closed the show.
Heading into his 60s, Escovedo has never been more in control of his consider powers as a songwriter and performer. Here's hoping he brings his rock & roll revue back to town before his muse takes him in a new direction. Even if that happens, though, Escovedo is always worth following.