Alejandro Escovedo

Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, June 19

Photo: Stephen McGill

BY Stuart HendersonPublished Jun 20, 2014

Opening with his modern classic "Five Hearts Breaking," Austin-based alt-country veteran Escovedo started strong and then seemed to build muscle with every successive tune. "Everything will be alright," he sang, and we believed him. That's what you do when the guy in charge gives you advice. "Believe, believe and everything will be fine." Playing an acoustic guitar and backed by Susan Voelz (Poi Dog Pondering) on violin, Escovedo found a level of intensity uncommon among folksingers. But, he's not really a folksinger, is he? Midway through the set he picked up an electric guitar to remind us.

Forty years into his varied and impressive career, Escovedo has demonstrated himself to be adept at a wide range of genres, approaches, sounds. From punk rock to country to Mexican folk to straight ahead rock'n'roll, Escovedo has played it all. Watching him move through these genres on this night was mesmerizing. From the folky "Five Hearts" through the edgy, unrelenting eighth note downstrokes driving "Sally Was A Cop" to the barrage of noisy glory that was the set closer "Chelsea Hotel '78" (an ode, as it were, to Sid Vicious), he gave us his all. "It makes no sense!" he screamed into the mic as the show came to its crashing end. "It makes perfect sense!" Fuck, yes it did.

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