Words by: David Higdon | Images by: Paul Puckett
Alejandro Escovedo :: 04.14.09 & 04.15.09 :: Eddie's Attic :: Decatur, GA
Anticipation of catching Alejandro Escovedo performing for two nights in a row brought with it not only excitement but an opportunity to share an extended glimpse into the mood of an extremely genuine performer. Escovedo is capable of presenting his music in many different configurations - the rock band, the trio and the orchestra, with the acoustic duo being the most intimate. Each one of these different configurations may hold a new tempo, structure or insight into a song. On these consecutive evenings, the ever so unique listening room at Eddie's Attic played host to a professional musician having fun and making sure that every one in attendance left with spirits raised and hope firmly restored.
When applied to an uninitiated Escovedo fan, the phrase "acoustic duo" could surely conjure images of '60s folk group nostalgia or perhaps an aging rock band attempting to be taken seriously by redefining their songs ala '90s era MTV Unplugged. This is a misconception, which has probably attributed to keeping Escovedo unjustly flying below the radar as his performances are honest expressions that reveal the bare soul of an artist in touch with the moving emotions of an ever spinning world and the possibilities and changes that we could all encounter at any given time. That and well, fucking serious rock 'n' roll.
Escovedo, along with guitarist extraordinaire David Pulkingham, allowed the introductory notes of "Five Hearts Breaking" to settle across the devoted audience, as the Attic's collective attention focused on Escovedo's lyrics and Pulkingham's artistic fills. It was soon revealed just how impressive Pulkingham's ability to conjure unique sounds from the hull of his acoustic was; similar to the way a sailboat might capture air. First song "Always a Friend" released attention from the stage and brought focus into the room itself through the song's loose rock structure. Magnified, perhaps, in this 185-capacity venue, was Escovedo's genuine relationship built with all in attendance. His insightful storytelling banter was never overstated but rather provided a valuable biography to the musician's catalog.
Escovedo played "I Was Drunk," with its intense remote late night loneliness built into a fandango flash, which was soon followed by a cover of Ian Hunter's "I Wish I Was Your Mother." Escovedo, a long-time devotee of the Mott the Hoople frontman, has structured a stirring rendition of the song's conflicting emotions of love that drive our partners and ultimately ourselves crazy. The audience was asked what the encore should be and stumped the duo with a request for the first song Escovedo ever wrote, "The Rain Won't Help You When It's Over." While he could've skirted over the obscure True Believers' classic (most often associated with the Whiskeytown cover), Escovedo acknowledged the request by jumping right into it with Pulkingham providing slide detail throughout.
|Escovedo & Pulkingham :: 04.15 :: Decatur, GA|
Turning the acoustic guitars into screaming electric versions of themselves, the duo engaged the audience with a reworked take on The Stooges' classic "I Wanna Be Your Dog," which turned the Attic into a garage. It had massive energy; there were times when the pair seemed headed off the rails, but the excitement would just continue to mount as they managed to reel it back in just in time. An eruption of applause and amazement filled the room leaving a palpable energy hanging on the walls for the following evening's return.
Escovedo made sure to take the time to announce during both nights just how special the Decatur music spot was to him. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of seeing a show at Eddie's Attic can attest to a truly unique evening shared in close proximity with musicians. The purpose of having a listening room is paramount when trying to deliver a song such as the instrumental "Juarez," which segued into "Rosalie." This pairing was played on the second night after a request by a couple that had shared the songs as the first dance at their wedding. Escovedo granted the request solely upon their agreement to dance. As the couple retraced their steps in each other's arms, Pulkingham's beautifully tender guitar illustrated an acoustic landscape of a Texas border town followed by the timeless beauty of "Rosalie," a song written from the collected letters of a romantic time past, played out to smiles, warmed hearts and well wishes.
Jumping off the miniscule stage, Escovedo and Pulkingham removed any remaining confines by busting through the proscenium arch and visiting all sections of the venue, thus providing each corner with a front row perspective. Songs such as the rarely played "Broken Bottle" and Mick Jagger solo gem "Evening Gown" balanced each other out, seriousness alongside carefree tongue-in-cheek swagger. This off-the-cuff setlist exemplified Escovedo's connection with each person in the room, picking up a new vibe, a new feel in each area and playing simply what came to him. Upon returning to the stage, the pair played new song "Fall Apart With You" to a house where all now felt a little closer, the evening once more displaying its own brand of magic.
|Escovedo & Pulkingham :: 04.15 :: Decatur, GA|
The pair's ability to create a setting and a mood is unparalleled. They are having fun, and that fun translates into their determination to push musical boundaries. The "Gravity/Falling Down Again" pairing from Escovedo's amazing 1992 solo debut, Gravity, is grand in its intimate beginning which dropped into hard rocking jamming before emerging into Lou Reed's tightly orchestrated "Street Hassle." This would be a bold sequence for a full band but two guys on acoustic guitars? The payoff was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. This pair made sounds so full and so properly placed that night two's audience erupted into an extended applause full of amazement and exuberant thanks.
Alejandro Escovedo :: 04.14.09 :: Eddie's Attic :: Decatur, GA
Five Hearts Breaking, Always a Friend, Everybody Loves Me, Sister Lost Soul, Chelsea Hotel, Juarez > Rosalie, I Was Drunk, Sensitive Boys, I Wish I Was Your Mother*, Swallows of San Juan, Hollywood Hills, Fall Apart With You, Real As an Animal, Castanets
Encore: The Rain Can't Help You When It's Over, She's Too Good For Me**, I Wanna Be Your Dog***
*Ian Hunter cover, **Warren Zevon cover,***Iggy & the Stooges cover
Alejandro Escovedo :: 04.15.09 :: Eddie's Attic :: Decatur, GA
Five Hearts Breaking, Always a Friend, Everybody Loves Me, Sister Lost Soul, Chelsea Hotel, Juarez > Rosalie, Sensitive Boys, Broken Bottle, Evening Gown*, Swallows of San Juan, She's Too Good For Me**, Fall Apart With You, Real As an Animal, Velvet Guitar, Gravity > Falling Down Again>Street Hassle**
Encore: Sad and Dreamy > Lively Up Yourself****, Castanets
*Mick Jagger cover, **Warren Zevon cover, ***Lou Reed cover, ****Bob Marley cover
Alejandro Escovedo tour dates available here.
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