Monday 20th – Raul Malo and his Band, The Stables, Wavendon. So I didn’t give this gig a prior recommendation, maybe because I really wasn’t sure what it would be like, also I was slightly concerned that some might think I was going a bit soft seeing Raul Malo again. Yes that’s right we were lucky at Empty Rooms to promote him as a duo in 2010 in Oxford. I know there were a few strange looks when I turned up at The Stables and they wondered why I joined the 300+ audience, clearly of an age that remembers Raul from The Mavericks. But undeterred I hid away in the shadows standing in my usual spot at the balcony, yes despite buying a seated ticket I still love to stand at The Stables, I might see if they will let me sponsor a carpet tile instead of a chair.
Due to the fact I was chatting in the foyer I did manage to miss most of the support for the evening by Simon Lynge which actually was a shame as I did enjoy his last visit to this venue in support of The Secret Sisters, and it’s no secret, I liked his set far better than their’s. This time around it’s clear the audience liked him too as the “barometer” of popularity proved in the interval with the queue to buy his CD.
After a short interval we were treated to what best can be described as two hours of pure entertainment. I won’t begin to list the song on the set list, even Raul admitted there is no set list, all I know is, not only were we treated to some of his solo work, the hits and more from is Maverick days and some great covers, we were also treated to his amazing voice and a rapport with the audience that helps make it a special evening.
As is customary at this venue, everybody had to do their dancing sitting down, though I did see from my vantage point quite a few people swaying and tapping their thighs. So this left me and a few Stablemates at the back to do the dancing standing up, for which I’ve become quite the expert at the soft shoe shuffle. The one exception was a young chap in the side front row who was not going to let his disability stop him getting up when he could to dance at the side of the stage, and clearly to the enjoyment of the band too, I sensed there we also some other peoplein the audience who wished they could leave the inhibitions and join in.
At 10.40pm Raul left the stage to some wild applause and a standing ovation, but frankly I think we all knew he would be back and Mr Malo does not do single song encores, no more like another set. As he came back the audience re took their seats for a solo spot before bringing the band on for another five songs, all of which were so upbeat and more lively that the crowd could not contain themselves any longer and all got to their feet. In a nice touch the young disabled guy, who had shown most of us that he was determined to enjoy the evening, was helped up on stage where Raul proceeded to put his guitar around the chaps neck and allowed him to pretend to play it, un-amped of course, while still dancing on stage.
It all ended at about 10 past 11 and there was still a buzz in the crowd as we left. You could say this was showmanship, you could say this was entertainment or you could just say this was a bloody great evening.
I’m not sure if those doubting “Stablemates” will ever be won over and we are all entitled to our tastes in music but I came here, knowing his work and still with an open mind and I came away very pleased I’d seen him again and with a band.
Would I go back again? Yes. Would I mind if Empty Rooms promoted him again in the future? No. Will I go and see him later this week at Glastonbury No . . . but I would never consider going to Glastonbury for anybody I’m afraid, but I might just catch up with him if I go to Cambridge Folk Festival at the end of July . . . . . at least this time I too can be dancing in the front row.