Music doesn’t get much more profoundly festive than what the Mavericks delivered Tuesday night at the El Rey, the L.A. stop on a tour supporting the group’s reunion album, “In Time.”
Over nearly 2½ hours, the Miami-born, Nashville-based country-rock-Latin-pop-folk-gospel group dispensed with any sense of artifice or calculation that’s so often at work in the pop music world. The core quintet, augmented on tour to nine pieces with horns and accordion, cut straight to the heart with effervescent songs celebrating life and love, even when all isn’t sunshine and roses.
Signaling the group's confidence in the potent new material from “In Time,” lead singer-songwriter and guitarist Raul Malo kicked off the show with the irresistibly pulsating “Back in My Arms Again,” offering up the collection’s first three tracks before dipping into vintage songs from the group’s first go-round in the 1990s.
Malo and his bandmates know the power to move that’s at the center of so much Latin music, and the Grammy-winning group incorporates tango, cumbia, cha-cha and other dance rhythms into the vast majority of its songs. Still, the group is also eminently capable of accessing other move-your-body styles, whether it’s the boogie-woogie rock of “As Long as There’s Loving Tonight,” the Texas swing of “There Goes My Heart” or the chunky country soul of the updated arrangement of “Pretend.”