I’m telling you Salt Lake, sometimes the right night at The State Room can feel like a religious experience. And, judging by the sparse attendance at Tuesday night’s Alejandro Escovedo show there, y’all need a little Jesus in your lives.
Escovedo, singer-songwriter extraordinaire, was performing a rare solo show, and what was left, without the loud drums and the electric guitars (save for one song) ended up being an intimate and tender night of music with musician who has a lot of history with this town. “I love playing Salt Lake,” he told the crowd. “I’ve been doing it for a long time… If nothing else to eat at the Red Iguana… It’s soul food of the best kind.” In fact, in a way, his entire show was a love letter to the Red Iguana, with repeated references to the Killer Mexican Food.
In a setlist that spanned his entire career. Skipping The Nuns, which he called “the worst band ever,” Escovedo went through songs from Rank & File on through to his solo career (in no particular order) and a small but loyal crowd listened in rapt attention as he spun yarns, talking about his musical family, his life on the road and friendships he’s made along the way.
And though most of the show was acoustic—including “Five Hearts Breaking,” “Sunday Morning Feeling,” “Sally Was a Cop”—he pulled out the electric guitar for “Chelsea Hotel ’78,” and after the that one song, ending with Pete Townshend-style windmills, the singer-songwriter shrugged as he put the electric down and reached again for his acoustic. “I guess there’s only one of those left in me these days,” he said, “Thank you for indulging that youthful noise.”
And after more small talk about The Zephyr, The Jayhawks and Bruce Springsteen, Escovedo closed his main set with a tender version of “Always a Friend.”
“If you insist,” he said with a smile after the crowd pulled him back onstage for an obligatory two-song encore of “Down in the Bowery” and “Rosalie.”
“I’ll be at the Red Iguana all day tomorrow,” he told the crowd in some of his parting words. The Red Iguana. The State Room. Alejandro Escovedo. If that’s not a holy trinity, I don’t know what is.