Photos by William Michael Smith
I've never been a particularly big Raul Malo fan. Sure, he and his Mavericks had a few stellar singles that were pure gold from the first note, most notably (for me anyway) the Dwight Yoakam-ish twanger "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down."
But my significant other, a pretty fair hit-the-notes singer in her own right, had been anticipating Malo's Wednesday night appearance at House of Blues almost from the first second I mentioned seeing him on the upcoming shows list. As far as she's concerned, Malo is one of the best pop voices in the world; believe me, she told me more times than I can recall.
"Whatever," I thought. Humor her and it will all be over soon.
Whether it was his rocking Cuban-tinged pop, Leiber-Stoller's Elvis classic "Santa Claus Is Back in Town," or, in the smoking encore, his Mavericks signature "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down" - he and his band of virtuosos torched the crowd with that one - Malo was absolutely masterful.
His 90-minute set included strong offerings from his upcoming release, Lucky One, especially the rocking power-pop number "Hello Again." And he nailed several crowd-pleasing Christmas songs, especially a super-slow, maximum-finesse version of "Blue Christmas."
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Malo and the significant other made a believer out of me. This guy can sing as well as anyone out there, and he couples it with stout guitar work, audience-respecting showmanship, and a great bandleader's sense of how to get the most out of his players and material.
It was one impressive show. Count me in for the next one. - William Michael Smith