In a world that has become narrow-casted and micro-managed, Mercury recording artists the Mavericks are an anomaly. Charting early in their career on the country charts, the Mavericks have since evolved into an act that could almost be described as a “World Dance Frat Party” ensemble — how else to describe a group that covers “Twist and Shout” and the Cuban folk standard “Guantanamera” in the same set?
The ultimate feel-good bar was in Los Angeles to promote a greatest hits package, “Super Colossal Hits of the ’90s.” Propelled by Paul Deakin’s expert drumming and fronted by Raul Malo’s amazingly powerful set of pipes (Malo recalls Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens, Roy Orbison and Garth Brooks all rolled into one package), the Mavericks were augmented by a four-piece horn section and keyboards on this night. Opening up with their mariachi-like U.K. top five single “Dance the Night Away” and following it with a two-steppy version of the Cat Stevens-penned Tremelos oldie “Here Comes My Baby,” the band lifted the room up into musical potpourri heaven — and stayed there.
Band was loose and funny as well. When Malo forgot an entire section of the song “Foolish Heart,” he and the band nearly doubled over in laughter onstage. Malo admonished the audience for applauding the gaffe, asking them not to “encourage my bad behavior,” and then sent the group offstage for three solo songs, including a poignant version of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Hot Burrito #1.”
Back they came with a vengeance, set peaking with “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down,” their biggest hit, followed by a pair of Cuban traditionals that set the house afire. Like the band’s repertoire, the crowd was an eclectic mix, with bikers, punk-rockers, rockabillies, country music diehards in Stetsons and middle-aged housewives filling the audience. As encouraging as this diversity may be from a human interest standpoint, it shows why the Mavs are not quite the country superstars they should be — their appeal is too diverse for the slender range of tastes dictating what happens in Nashville.