Calexico are over here promoting their latest fine album ‘Edge of the Sun’ and the set draws heavily from that. Burns and Convertino are supported by a fine cast of multi instrumental sideman with the impressive Gaby Moreno helping out on vocals. That said it takes a few songs to sort out the sound up front as the band were a little low in the mix especially the backing vocals.
I have mixed feelings about the Barbican as a venue. Much like the Royal Festival Hall I am sure musicians love it as the acoustics and sound will generally be good but they are largely soulless sterile rooms for me. I’m not a fan of seated gigs in the main and especially so here where the seats are so comfortable its difficult not sink in and let the music drift over you. I think the bands have to try especially hard here to generate an atmosphere as Iron and Win successfully demonstrated a couple of years back with a storming set that had the crowd on board from minute one. Tonight, however, it’s all very polite but the crowd are generally muted with a few hand claps here and there with Burns doing his level best to get them ‘up’.
The highlight of the show for me was the solo acoustic number that was genuinely moving. Burns’ voice is as strong and soulful as ever. As the night wore on the crowd warmed up a bit and there was some dancing at the front. I’m not sure the unplugged set at the end worked that well as you couldn’t hear the vocals especially in such a large room.
So despite the best efforts of the band a slightly disappointing gig with the music tending to wash over me not helped by the subdued atmosphere in the room. It did not compare to the Forum show of four years ago.