When you’ve been around as long as Alejandro Escovedo and David Hidalgo, you can make your own rules.
Want to play together? Great. No band? OK. You want to take requests and just make the show up as you go along? Fine. You’re taking a few minutes to declare your love for Red Iguana and its late owner Ramon Cardenas? Hey, who doesn’t love the mole at Red Iguana?
And that’s how it went for Escovedo and Hidalgo on Friday at the State Room in Salt Lake City. Not so promptly at 8:30 p.m., the men walked on stage, sat down in chairs, picked up guitars and did it their way.
Hidalgo, the 58-year-old best known for his work with Los Lobos, led Escovedo in covering some Los Lobos tunes, including “La Pistola y el Corazón” and “Don’t Ask Why.”
Escovedo, 61, took the lead when the duo performed his solo work, including “Sally Was a Cop” and “Castanets.” Escovedo and Hidalgo took turns singing lead and alternated between acoustic and electric guitars.
Escovedo proved to be the better vocalists, his voice sounding crisp in the State Room sound system. Hidalgo showed himself to be the superior guitar player, adding some impressive finger work to even Escovedo’s songs. The pair was playing what they said was their second show together, and apparently they didn’t spend much time rehearsing. By the shows second hour, they were looking at each other and talking about what they knew how to play next.
State Room management placed chairs on the floor in front of the stage for the almost-all-over-40 crowd. They clapped and cheered and yelled out requests as Escovedo and Hidalgo pondered what to play.
That lead to the surprise of the night. Escovedo and Hidalgo moved away from their trademark Mexican American rock and lead the crowd in singing Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane.”
By the time the show was over, Escovedo and Hidalgo had spent about 2 1/2 hours on stage. The word “intimate” is overused in concert going, but it applied Friday to an entertaining show where much of the fun was watching Escovedo and Hidalgo do as they pleased.
Alejandro Escovedo and David Hidalgo
When • Friday at the State Room
Bottom line • The duo made it up as they went along and the crowd followed for an entertaining show.