Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Los Pacaminos - Robin 2 Bilston Friday 26 October 2012

Los Pacaminos. Photo not taken at gig
On the eve of their twentieth anniversary, part time Tex-Mex outfit Los Pacaminos still manage to inject some humour into their live shows by remarking on the difficult second album syndrome. The fact that this seven piece band have only a solitary twelve-track recorded collection of self-penned songs to represent their studio activity is somewhat irrelevant as the true spirit of Los Pacaminos is housed within the sporadic live shows that crop up on a regular basis. Maybe it’s because of the central location or that they’re granted a Friday night party spot, but the Robin 2 in the West Midlands town of Bilston has become a regular stopping off point when the guys decide to get together to perform.

For those unaware of this band, it’s a collaboration of very talented musicians who frequently take a break from their day jobs to indulge in a passion for general American music and, in particular, that originating in the south western states with all the flavour of sounds from across the border. Eighties pop star Paul Young is often portrayed as the face of the band, mainly for promotion purposes, but it’s a fairly egalitarian combination of musicians who list Sir Tom Jones, Queen, Squeeze and Jools Holland as the major acts they are associated with. Fine rock guitarist Jamie Moses generally shares top billing with Young in fronting the band, with acoustic guitarist Drew Barfield providing much of the serious creative input alongside vocals that often outperform his more popular colleagues. The sound of the west is enhanced by Matt Irving’s accordion and keyboard while pedal steel guitar player Melvin Duffy is one of the UK’s most sought after talents. Together with bassist, Steve Greetham and drummer, Mark Pinder, you have a complete band who expertly gives an entertaining and accomplished performance of Tex-Mex music.

Over the course of nearly two and a half hours, the band played a couple of sets that saw them mix a few of their original tracks with a barrage of tunes from not just the Tex-Mex genre, but  sounds that represent blues, soul, rock n’ roll, western swing and general Americana. The opening performance contained ‘Poor Boys’, with Irving on lead, and ‘Shadows on the Rise’ with Barfield delivering the vocals, representing the LOS PACAMINOS album. Jamie Moses excelled with a version of ‘Little Sister’, made famous by Elvis and a highly entertaining cover of the Texas Tornadoes number ‘Better than Nada’. Paul Young, with his vocals unfortunately a shadow of their eighties peak, opened the show with the popular ‘Highway Patrol’ and fronted the Los Pacaminos take on the Merle Travis classic ‘Smoke That Cigarette’.
After the break, more classic songs came fast and furious. The sound headed north to Chicago with a rendition of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s blues number ‘Gangster of Love’ while 1960’s rock ‘n roll smash ‘Come A Little Bit Closer’ encouraged the audience to upgrade from just tapping their toes. Country rock artist Sarah Warren, from the support band, joined the guys on stage to lead the vocals on, what is perhaps the Los Pacaminos signature tune, ‘Raised on Margaritas’. This left just enough time for the usual finale that ensures the fans, both old and new, depart the venue buzzing. The regular closing songs are both true to the heart of the band’s passion for Tex- Mex music, with a cover of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs classic ‘Woolly Bully’ preceding the popular encore dance track ‘La Bamba’, popularised by Richie Valens in the fifties.

Most Los Pacaminos shows, apart from an alternative choice of covers, are a general standard formula with the humour, crowd banter and regular tequila breaks often playing down the sheer quality of the music. That is probably the secret of their longevity as they try not to take themselves too seriously without compromising their artistry. So, long may these seven guys get together to indulge in their passion and we’ll probably forgive them for that never ending wait for a second album.

                                 Studio version of Woolly Bully

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