Live Review: Calexico, Ben Abraham, Day Of The Dead

18 March 2016 | 2:01 pm | Christopher H James

"With a little extra cowbell and some subtly deep grooves, the comfortably seated were compelled into sexy dancing."

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Calexico may be feted for their desert sound, but Day Of The Dead started the evening by keeping it 100% coastal with their faithful recreation of the classic surf-rock sound. They may not be reinventing the wheel, but that's hardly their objective as lead guitarist, Ben Frichot, effortlessly peeled off one vintage riff after another.

Besides a stripped down and thoroughly convincing version of Kate Bush's Cloudbusting Ben Abraham's songs seemed intensely personal and he connected well not only with the crowd but also Calexico, who backed him on his closing number. "Someone video this and send it to me," he yelped, clearly unable to contain himself.

A band as gifted and versatile as Calexico can be many different things. On some previous WA appearances they've been moody and atmospheric, on others they've been party animals. Amidst the Fremantle Arts Centre greenery, the obvious choice would have been to conjure something cosy and intimate. Instead, with a little extra cowbell and some subtly deep grooves, the comfortably seated were compelled into sexy dancing. Despite little room for cavorting, the faithful were unable to resist, and within a few numbers the front rows were overrun with sambaing hotties and gypsy dancers.

The friskier numbers were separated by pieces like For Better Metal, punctuated as it was with glorious close harmony trumpets, and the devastating comedown of Black Heart. Calexico invited Mambo Chic's Geraldine Rey on stage to cover a sultry French number, before tackling a soaring homage to Love's Alone Again Or. The choice to play the belting The Crystal Frontier as a closer was predictable enough, but in no way disappointing. It was Calexico in their purest form, gradually building up momentum like a steam train before the inevitable big brass finish. While experiencing a band as unique as Calexico is always inspiring, the only downside is the realisation afterwards that we won't hear anything even vaguely like them again until they're back in town.

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