Twenty one years ago, I found myself sitting nervously in a Toronto hotel room waiting to interview a new band that had been tearing up the country music charts with an album that I loved. I could sing all the lyrics to every track, and I had the worst crush on their lead singer. The door opened…my heart pounded…and in walked The Mavericks, sadly, sans their brilliant vocalist Raul Malo who was resting his throat prior to their concert that night. Intellectually I understood, emotionally I was crushed, but after a few minutes of joking with drummer Paul Deakin and their then guitarist Robert Reynolds about their hit album Oh What a Thrill, I was soon at ease and having a blast interviewing these two Mavs.
Skip ahead two decades and here I am again interviewing the band, this time for Cashbox Canada magazine. Paul Deakin and keyboard player Jerry Dale McFadden talked about their new album, MONO, and their April 24th concert in Toronto. Now, with numerous music awards including Grammys under their belts, I was wondering how life and the music industry had treated the guys – read my interview here: http://bit.ly/1bodHT0
So here we are on Friday night April 24th, at the Phoenix Nightclub in Toronto – my photographer Gabriella Luchetta weighed down with an array of cameras and me carrying a ton of memories of great Mavericks concerts and recordings. Sadly, the club promoters did not think things through….the audience was mature so you don’t expect 50 and 60 year olds to stand for 4 hours on a concrete floor – but the Phoenix did. Fortunately, the head of security responded positively to my plea for seating (I still have a bum knee from a winter ice slip-n-fall) and led me to the special section for those of us with “challenges” which, as you can see below, was quite delightful!
First up, the opening act and oh boy, what a fantastic artist we got. The Whitney Rose Band marched onto the stage and kept us entertained for about half an hour with some sizzling country tunes. The talented and pretty young Canadian country music artist Whitney Rose (below) held the audience in the palm of her hand, performing tracks off her new album Heartbreaker of the Year, produced by Maverick’s leader Raul Malo. She apologized profusely to those in the front row for the shortness of her skirt, adding a cheeky “you’re welcome” to those wolf-whistlers further back! www.whitneyrosemusic.com
The Mavericks then took the stage and spent the next two and a half hours driving us all crazy with hit after hit, new tunes off MONO and even some Patsy Cline and Neil Young covers, too.The energy from the band was infectious, especially when keyboardist Jerry stepped away from the keys and danced across the stage to audience cheers (below). Macho guitarist Eddie Perez strutted and posed with a little wink-wink to the audience, and drummer Paul twirled his sticks wildly in time with the back-up musicians (horn section, accordion, upright bass).
But it was Raul Malo who everyone wanted to see and hear. Malo’s voice – tinged with more than a hint of Roy Orbison’s bright falsetto – is phenomenal; he’s been called one of the greatest voices in popular music by many music journalists and critics. And when he stood alone at centre stage singing The Mav’s early hit, “Oh What a Thrill” followed by Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”, the entire audience swayed in unison with many a tear-filled eye fixed on Malo.
The Mavericks ended their show with a frenetic series of rock, New Orleans voodoo boogie, Tex-Mex and dance tunes filled with solos for each band member, and the crowd was well and truly spent. The audience of silver foxes was partying like it was 1999 – arthritis be damned! The new CD, Mono, sold like hotcakes and everyone was grabbing t-shirts, bandannas and pins from the merchandise sales table. For more information about The Mavericks and their new album, Mono, please visit their website: www.themavericksband.com.
Another story/concert review will appear in the May issue of www.TheRider.com