Taft Theatre, 317 E 5th St, Cincinnati, OH
8pm, Buy Tickets
Live albums, longtime staples of a golden age in rock and roll, are rare nowadays. But the Mavericks have validated the concept once again, launching their new record label with a long, loud landmark project entitled All Night Live Volume 1, set for release October 14, 2016. The Mavericks are considered by many to be one of the greatest live bands of our time, and this masterfully sequenced and mixed collection of curated performances from 2015’s Mono Mundo Tour captures a transcendent musical experience as if from the center of the fifth row at a venue of your dreams.
Besides the standard CD and digital issues, the album will be released in a gatefold double LP with high-impact, highly touchable design and original typography by Dresser Johnson. The die-cut LP jacket and swappable background images on the record sleeves make for an engaging and emotional experience. Because that’s what a Mavericks show is. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviewer wrote recently that he was “out of superlatives” after the show: “The cult of Mavs fans walked out knowing they surely just saw the only band in the world that can do all this stuff at once, and this brilliantly.” The L.A. Times put it even more crisply: “This is why human beings make music.”
All Night Live Volume 1 marks the band’s first foray into the world of exclusive fan pre-sale in partnership with PledgeMusic. The pre-sale launched August 12th at http://www.pledgemusic.com/
To scan the Mavericks’ packed tour schedule at most times of year is to risk a sense of vicarious exhaustion. For the band it’s exactly the opposite. Shows, even night after night, are their source of energy, passion and pride. The draw of the stage and the physics-defying energy loop of band and audience is what put them on the map in their first 1990s incarnation and what impelled them to reunite in 2012. Moreover, the road show of the Mavericks 2.0 has been so much more than a nostalgia tour for first generation fans. At the heart of their current performances are songs from the two post-reunion albums In Time and Mono. Fans demand to hear them at least as much as the early radio hits.
“After all these years, for us to be able to play the songs that we want to play is a real privilege,” says lead singer and founding member Raul Malo. “And that happens because of this symbiotic relationship between artist and audience.”
All Night Live Volume 1 opens a new chapter of the Mavericks’ career as they introduce their new record label, Mono Mundo Recordings. Taking control of their own art and business destiny, after working with several major labels, fits perfectly with the spirit of the Mavericks circa 2016. The band officially consists of commanding tenor singer and guitarist Raul Malo, lead guitarist and vocalist Eddie Perez, keyboardist/singer Jerry Dale McFadden and drummer Paul Deakin. The touring band captured on these recordings is rounded out by the “Fantastic Four”: Max Abrams on sax and percussion, Ed Friedland on upright bass, Matt Cappy on trumpet and Michael Guerra, a multi-instrumentalist who provides the Mavericks’ irresistible Tex-Mex accordion.
This flexible, expert instrumentation allows them to mingle the slap and boogie of old-time rock and roll with the blues and narrative power of country music, the twang of surf music and the enlivening grooves of Cuban and Latin music. It’s a sound utterly unique in popular music today and audiences come unglued in the presence of its polyrhythms and syncopated pulse. And even as the band members display immaculate competence as musicians and ensemble, they radiate charisma and spirit as well. Malo is renowned for his exquisite voice, but he’s a band leader through and through, directing the dynamics on stage and playing fiery guitar as well. Deakin attacks the drum kit like Ringo with the muscles of a bouncer. Perez, who favors silk suits and wide brimmed fedoras, plays electric guitar with equivalent panache, and his solos have a way of evoking go-go girls and desert snakes. Opposite Perez, Jerry Dale McFadden dances with abandon behind his keyboards in candy colored suits. The bottom line: Few bands this excellent are this entertaining and few bands this entertaining are this excellent.
The Mavericks were founded more than 25 years ago by Malo and Deakin as a standout alternative band in a Miami rock scene dominated by hair metal and punk. Improbably, they were noticed by super-producer Tony Brown in Nashville, and when they got signed to innovative MCA Records, they upended expectations in country music. Their blend of Cuban grooves and Bakersfield-inspired twang netted them several CMA and ACM Awards plus a Grammy in 1995. They charted numerous singles and albums while earning accolades as one of the finest live bands in the business. There was some time off and re-jiggering of personnel, but they came back strong with 2013’s In Time and 2015’s Mono, albums that provided abundant material for a refreshed and unmatched stage show.
“We’ve traveled a lot in the last four years. And we’ve come back from a hiatus of nine years to find a brand new purpose — not just to go out and play for tickets and do the oldies,” says Eddie Perez. “Not many bands get to come back from that long to have another moment like this. So I believe it to be quite special.”
All Night Live opens with an insistent four-four cowbell beat, like a call to action that morphs into the soaring horn lines and hard twist of “All Night Long.” The hallmarks of the album as it unfolds are ambiance — a warm roomy feeling coaxed out carefully by engineer Nico Bolas working with co-producer Raul Malo — along with stylistic variety. The Mavericks don’t get caught in a rut. “Stories We Could Tell” swings like Benny Goodman, while “Do You Want Me To” is a sultry, slow-burning blues. “Every Little Thing About You” is magisterial, creating maximum tension with an aching tempo and drummer Deakin clobbering the skins in elegantly relaxed time. Next, “I Said I Love You” brings forth the sweatiest ska pulse since Madness ruled MTV, before pulling off an incredible modulation from minor to major key — a surge of joy that’s designed to drive an audience crazy. Conversely, the following track, a blue-lit and romantic cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” provides a serene respite before the project heads toward home with a final blast of energy.
The album’s first focus track, “Come Unto Me,” plays out a full epic arc over a glorious 7:25. The room-shaking Tarantino tremolo of Eddie Perez’s guitar solo gives way to a passage of graceful spaciousness featuring a patient Tango from Guerra’s accordion. After Deakin’s drums re-enter (explosively), the song cruises along as up a windy Baja coastal highway and lets the trumpet player show off before the finale. In the set’s nightcap, “We’re Waiting for the World to End,” the band sings and vamps with such audible smiles and such joy that even if it were true, you feel like it’s all going to be okay.
The Mavericks will follow up this October release with a new studio album in April 2017.
To celebrate its live album, the band will spend the late summer and fall months on the road. In September, the band heads west to perform dates in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, then steering through Texas and into tge Midwest in September, and east in October. Full tour itinerary here: http://www.