The Mavericks in Paris

Within about 5 minutes, of arriving at Paris’ Divan du Monde to see The Mavericks last Saturday, I realized that I was easily the youngest person in a crowd of mostly 40 and 50-somethings. Which, initially shocked me and was a bit of a bummer. I’ve been in mixed audiences before, but had no idea what a more mature crowd dynamic would be like, particularly in Paris. As it turns out they were one of the rowdiest, fan-based audiences I’ve encountered. The evening was filled with chats about the band’s history and previous shows, discussions about the new album, glow sticks and large banners. People came from everywhere—Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and all corners of France to see this show and dance the night away. It was wild.

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Granted, the band gave them a lot to cheer for. Raul Malo’s powerful vocals were even more impressive in person, as he easily rolled from swoon-worthy crooning on tunes like “Pardon Me” to formidable belting on “All Night Long.” And the rest of the band was equally brilliant. Eddie Perez is a master of both style and guitar—shredding incredible solos and opting for a wardrobe change (complete with swapped shoes) for the encore. Jerry Dale McFadden’s fingers flew on his keyboards as he swung around, dancing in a turquoise blue suit printed with red tulips. Paul Deakin’s playing was (in the words of one of my best friends) “on point”—he’s one of the most intense and brilliant drummers I’ve seen live. And that’s not even mentioning the trumpet, sax, and accordion players, all of whom offered up truly brilliant, innovative solos all night long.

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Even better, the group was touring solo, so we were treated to nearly 3 uninterrupted hours with the band. They played nearly all of their new album, Mono (more about that soon), as well as tracks from 2013’s riveting release In Time and old favorites like “There Goes My Heart,” “Oh What A Cryin’ Shame,” and “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down.” The set list was perfectly balanced, offering up a bevy of intense tunes that got the crowd dancing interspersed with gentler melodies to give everyone a break. All defined by a vibrant charm dealt by the band (Malo’s twinkling eyes, Perez’s edge-of-the-stage solos, and McFadden’s swinging style come to mind) and echoed by their audience. Case and point: I shimmied with a 60-year-old French woman, and I can promise you that this sort of thing NEVER happens in Paris.

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When it was all over everyone smiled, and sighed contentedly…and then mobbed the stage for handshakes, set lists, photos, and autographs.

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It was a truly unique show for everyone involved. For the French, who rarely get to see groups like this perform, and for the band, who had never visited Paris—Malo gave a solo rendition of “Mona Lisa” in honor of the occasion.

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The band had just come off of playing in large concert halls all over England. Known there primarily for their chart-topping single “Dance the Night Away,” they later confided in me that the tour had been slightly challenging with older, seated audiences that were difficult to energize, and that the small intimacy of Divan du Monde had been a refreshing change.

For me, it was just a joy to finally see a group who’s been on my playlists since I was in elementary school and has dominated them in the last two years. And I must say, after years of missing the group by a few days, I’m grateful that I first saw them here, in Paris, in a tiny club, where their true talents could shine through.

Okay, so my fellow millennials, if you still don’t believe me, here are 5 reasons why you should totally be listening to The Mavericks and hitting up their tour this year:

  • They are some of the best musicians I’ve ever seen live—seriously brilliant playing and jaw-dropping solos.
  • It’s fun—I literally cannot hear this music without dancing (the band can’t either). And for a group of people obsessed with dancing and partying I can think of nothing better.
  • It’s sexy—I find few things more sexy than rockabilly and latin music and this stuff nails both.
  • Raul Malo’s voice—there are so few singers today with the power and range of this man. He’s a freakin’ god.
  • Your parents and their friends will be massively impressed with your taste—for real. Don’t forget to listen when they recommend other bands to check out.

20-somethings…get on this.