Last Night: Alejandro Escovedo At House Of Blues

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Alejandro Escovedo House of Blues Bronze Peacock Room March 3, 2011

This never would have happened in Austin.

In our fair state capital, Alejandro Escovedo is worshiped like a god, and more people would show up to watch him wash his car than came out to House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room Thursday night. To be fair, the show was announced exactly one week before it happened, so even the late Bill Graham would have had a hard time promoting it.

In effect, what Aftermath and the other 125 or so smartest people in Houston got was a private party with one of Texas greatest living songwriters, someone whom Bruce Springsteen calls up to ask if he can sing backup on his album (as on "Faith," from last year's Street Songs of Love), and whose present band the Sensitive Boys could smite the Stooges on a good day. Maybe it was more of a private joke than a private party.

At any rate, Escovedo and his three compadres did not let up from the first note of the opener, Street Songs' "This Bed's Getting Crowded." Aftermath kept waiting for Edwin McCain to walk over from the Music Hall next door and ask Al and the boys to turn it down because their blazing bourbonitis blues was drowning out his sensitive man-songs.

Escovedo seemed to take the sparse turnout in stride, calling Thursday a "mystery show" and saying how much he had always enjoyed playing Houston. He reminisced about The Ale House and The Island - which would take him back to his days in San Francisco punks The Nuns - and told a funny story about how he was supposed to deliver a roasted chicken and $50 bag of pot to the late rock critic Lester Bangs here one time.

"Lester Bangs never saw the pot."

To give you an idea of how loud - and well-mixed - the show was, Aftermath had little trouble picking out most of the words to "Down In the Bowery" and the killer "Castanets" ("I like her better when she walks away") from outside on the balcony. "Lucky Day" came raining down in cascading Who chords, and Street Songs' "Anchor" and "Tender" were so riled up with muscle and blood we didn't even miss his usual cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Escovedo called up some genuine '70s Chi-Lites soul on "Sensitive Boy" - top that, McCain.

So maybe that last tequila shot wasn't such a good idea. Actually it was, just not so much this morning. But after we had been thoroughly rocked six ways from Sunday, and Escovedo closed with Hank Williams Jr.'s "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound" and the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden," what the hell else were we going to do?

This would never have happened in Austin.

Personal Bias: I too like her better when she walks away.

The crowd: Into it.

Overheard In the Crowd Men's Room: The plumbing fixtures rattling during "Chelsea Hotel '78"

Random Notebook Dump: How is "Always a Friend," which Bruce Springsteen called Escovedo onstage to duet at Toyota Center in 2008 a few months before it was released on Escovedo's Real Animal LP, not the official Facebook theme song?

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