Review by Adrian Peel with Photography by Michael Sibbons

With their uptempo party tunes and general good-time vibe, The Mavericks have a wide-ranging appeal – counting country fans, Latin music lovers, jazz hounds and pop pickers among their numerous admirers.

The Mavericks

And indeed there seemed to be many of them out in force tonight, crowding outside the London Palladium eager for the doors to open, I imagine, for drinks to be bought. Upon entering the venue, I noticed a handful of people had come dressed especially, with 50s-style hairdos and suitably matching attire.

Just after 8.30, after the ‘Can-can’ was played over the speakers, drummer Paul Deakin, one of two founding members – the other being lead singer/guitarist Raul Malo – came out and took his seat behind the drums, which were raised and to the left of the stage, to a rapturous reception.

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The shouting and applause became deafening when the rest of the band – guitarist Eddie Perez, flamboyant keyboard player Jerry Dale McFadden and Malo followed. Perez looked effortlessly cool in a white suit and pink shirt, all-round colourful character McFadden was resplendent in a tartan suit and red hat, while Malo had an open black shirt, topped off with a scarf and hat.

The four official members were accompanied by bass player Ed Friedland and three other very talented musicians: a trumpeter, a saxophonist and an accordion player, who also sang backing vocals and played various percussive instruments.

The Mavericks

‘Easy As It Seems’, off The Mavericks’ most recent album, 2017’s ‘Brand New Day’, kicked things off and was the ideal way to get things under way. Given a distinctly ‘Latin’ flavour, the song seemed to go down well in Cuba where the video was filmed. ‘Damned (If You Do)’, also off the new record, came next and was received equally as well.

Apart from the occasionally mouthed “thank you,” there was no talking at all for the first part of the show, as the group reeled off crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser. ‘Back in Your Arms Again’, ‘What a Crying Shame’ and ‘O What a Thrill’ were just some of the high points, though sadly Eddie Perez’s wonderful guitar playing often seemed to get drowned out in the mix.

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Malo thanked the audience for coming out to see the band at the “legendary London Palladium” and dedicated a cover of the Bee Gees’ ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ to all those affected by recent mass shootings in the US. “No one should be dying at a concert, a school or a church,” he said to warm applause. His magical voice truly soared on the heartfelt track.

Next up was ‘I Wish You Well’. Raul explained that the song was about his father and noted that it was recently nominated for a Grammy (in the category of Best American Roots Song). After the band had left the stage, Malo came back out alone, armed with an acoustic guitar, to deliver a passionate solo cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’’ and the title track off the latest LP, ‘Brand New Day’.

The Mavericks

Another cover, this time Pink Floyd’s ‘US and Them’, was a surprising choice and to be honest I think I’d rather have heard ‘Born to Be Blue’ – a stunning track from The Mavericks’ excellent ‘comeback’ album, 2013’s ‘In Time’ – which didn’t feature at all tonight. That said, Malo’s unique voice certainly added a different dimension to this Floyd classic.

Some members of the audience had already stood up previously and were still happily dancing along by the time seemingly everyone in the venue was up and moving to The Mavericks’ biggest UK hit, and the song with which they’re most commonly associated on this side of the Atlantic, ‘Dance the Night Away’. The ever-energetic Jerry Dale McFadden got in on the act by coming out from behind his instrument and dancing with wild abandon across the stage.

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A cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell’ led me to believe that we might not hear my favourite Mavericks song at all: ‘All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down’. I needn’t have worried, however – it was played last and was absolutely electrifying, Eddie Perez’s outstanding fretwork now clearly audible.

At the end, the band came out on to the front part of the stage and shook hands with well-wishers. Perez threw guitar picks into the crowd and even came back out after the music had ended to greet – and delight – more fans.

The Mavericks

This was an amazing gig from an amazing band; top-notch entertainers who are now better than ever. For anyone going to see them on the rest of their UK dates, you’re in for a treat – and don’t forget to take your dancing shoes.

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