Austin singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo tried to be measured and evenhanded in his show at the Troubadour. “Some people say the world’s a strange and evil place, then others say the sun shines every day,” he sang in “Put You Down,” the hourlong set’s opening song. In “Chelsea Hotel ’78” (from his vibrant Back Porch/Manhattan album “Real Animal”), he can’t decide if the story he’s telling makes “perfect sense” or “no sense at all.” He even sought to find equilibrium with his setlist, balancing dense, roiling rockers with delicate balladry. But his perf was so fiery and passionate, there can be no doubt that these days, Escovedo is feeling mighty optimistic.
Spurred on by Hector Munoz’s muscular drumming, Escovedo and his band ripped into the songs from the new album. The disc, Escovedo’s dry-eyed look back at the music and musicians that shaped him, is a reassessment clearly brought about by his recovery from a critical case of hepatitis.
They chomped down on the grinding riff of the Stooges homage “Real as an Animal,” blew the doors off the punky “Chelsea Hotel ’78” and swooned their way through “Sister Lost Soul,” a rustic, Spectorish tribute to the Gun Club’s doomed frontman, Jeffrey Lee Pierce. With opener Carrie Rodriguez joining the band on violin, the sound was thickly textured but energetic. Rodriquez and Matt Fish on cello added a lovely counterpoint to the songs of yearning and immigration from Escovedo’s music for the play “By the Hand of the Father.”
The evening ended in grand style, with sing-along covers of Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes” and the Stones’ “Beast of Burden” (the latter with David Garza on guitar and vocals). There was nothing considered and not a whiff of nostalgia, just Escovedo, his band and his aud sharing the sheer joy of being alive and playing music.