Arts & Culture

Review: The Mavericks at House of Blues

The Mavericks performing at House of Blues in Dallas on March 11, 2016.
The Mavericks performing at House of Blues in Dallas on March 11, 2016. Star-Telegram

Love your job, the old saw goes, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

It’s entirely possible the Mavericks, over the course of their nearly two-decade career, have had some moments where making music was far from a labor of love, but such occurrences have likely been very few and very far between.

Friday night’s freewheeling, two-hour dance party was nothing but amor on both sides of the stage.

If you couldn’t see it in frontman Raul Malo’s mile-wide grin, you could feel it in every note emanating from the House of Blues stage.

You could glimpse it in the hips, the hands, the faces and the feet of the several hundred fans, swaying, singing, and dancing with abandon.

Many of those gathered sang along to every single tune the eight-piece, Miami-formed band turned out, delivering its signature opening blitzkrieg, a full nine-song run full of adrenaline — the opener, Sinners & Saints, spinning into All Over Again and tumbling into All Night Long and careening into There Goes My Heart before exploding into Dance the Night Away — stilled only by a gorgeous reading of Waltz Across Texas, caressed by Malo’s national treasure of a baritone.

The Mavericks, inveterate road warriors, continue to tour in support of last year’s long-player, Mono.

Friday’s performance was the band’s first in about a week, and as such, there was an appealing looseness to the evening: “I hear somebody screaming for something Spanish,” Malo remarked at one point, “but here’s the thing: we need a round of tequila for that.”

(Several rounds were dutifully delivered to the foot of the stage, and one song later, Malo was belting en Español. It was also a case of careful-what-you-wish-for: “As it happens,” Malo cracked not long after, “we had no tequila; now we have too much.”)

One of the several toasts were in honor of Flaco Jimenez, the San Antonio-born conjunto accordion master whose 77th birthday was Friday. (Malo paid further tribute by singing a knock-out rendition of Jimenez’s Volver, Volver during the encore.)

Indeed, much of the set had a decidedly Latin bent — the beauty of the Mavericks’ polymorphous sound is its adaptability to the band members’ moods.

Assisted by guitar wizard Eddie Perez and Mesquite native (and endlessly twisting keyboardist) Jerry Dale McFadden, the black-clad Malo leaned into the swinging rhythms, beaming as he led the room in singing along with a ferocious Guantanamera spliced with Twist and Shout, or Dance in the Moonlight, or the rowdy finale, All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down (which, in a fitting bit of serendipity, features Flaco Jimenez on the album version).

To watch the Mavericks, all pistons firing — prodigious skill in lockstep with infectious exuberance — was to feel something like affection, but also profound admiration.

It really doesn’t feel like work if you love it.

Preston Jones: 817-390-7713, @prestonjones