Calexico World Drifts In: Live at the Barbican London


In one of the documentaries that comprise an hour's worth of bonus material, Calexico drummer John Convertino talks about how the mariachi influence on the band is less pronounced, more integrated into the sound of their 2003 career-best album, Feast of Wire. That sounds a tad ironic after witnessing the 90-minute concert at the core of this disc, in which Calexico's Tuscon neighbours in Mariachi Luz de Luna join them for over half of the set, hijacking the show and showing up their hosts. Of course, Calexico are no slouches and the beginning of the show is more than a solid representation of their live show, despite the fact that the camerawork is unimaginative and there aren't enough shots of the dapper and insanely talented Convertino. But things really heat up once the mariachis appear, and violinist Lulu Oliveras almost steals the show completely with her vocal turn on "Aires Del Mayab." Hearing Calexico's cover of the Minutemen's "Corona" with full strings and horns in a grand old London theatre must be making D. Boon smile somewhere. If Calexico can be accused of a brain-down approach to their music, the mariachis operate from the gut on up and give this show extra oomph, which raises all sorts of questions about why they need a white band to introduce them to a larger audience. But this is very much a mutual respect relationship, as shown on Joey Burns's documentary The Soul of Mariachi. Another doc talks to many of the side players, including the soundman, lighting designer and tour manager, who offer welcome added perspective outside of the bandleaders. Plus: three early videos, an animated short, four documentaries. (Quarterstick, www.tgrec.com)