fri 01/07/2022

Mexrrissey, Brighton Dome | reviews, news & interviews

Mexrrissey, Brighton Dome

Mexrrissey, Brighton Dome

Latino-flavoured Morrissey-loving party act warms up a winter night

These charming Mexicans

The name Mexrrissey may be unfamiliar, but the concept of a Mexican band playing mariachi-style versions of songs by Morrissey and The Smiths has brought out a decent-sized audience on a freezing January night. Their set is uneven and musically sloppy upon occasion, but at its peak, delivers an irresistible joyfulness, a curious development, given the source material’s notorious moping.

For instance, Mexrrissey’s euphoric ska-tinted take on The Smiths’ 1986 single “Bigmouth Strikes Again”, boosted by the swooping fiesta trumpet of Alex Escobar, is wonderful. Jay De La Cuerva, who looks like Frank Zappa’s shaggy younger brother, takes on vocals and leads the crowd in a revolving sing-along, becoming so involved he cannot stop himself having us sing the chorus again and again and again.

They’re clearly on their way and will likely be the surprise hit of this year’s summer festival season

That’s later, though. At first the crowd are more reticent. Very early in their set Mexrrissey are keen – perhaps too keen, given our English reserve – for the audience to stand up and dance. They’d probably have had more luck if the venue hadn’t opted for seated stalls, as well as closing the bar at 9.30 pm. Also, coming on to Gary Glitter’s “Rock’n’Roll (Part 2)” and trying to have us air-punch may have been misguided. It’s a great song but, in the UK at least, sadly continues to be overshadowed by its singer’s repeated paedophilia-related convictions. Sporadic outbreaks of shimmying do occur during early numbers such as “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get”, “Everyday Is Like a Sunday”, and a cha-cha take on “Girlfriend in a Coma”, but the band haven’t quite gelled and remain not 100% convincing. They seem more like a bar band chancing it.

Mexrissey, however, are no amateurs. Put together by their synth-player, electronica doyen Camilo Lara of the Mexican Institute of Sound, they’re actually a supergroup of sorts. The vocals, all in Spanish, are shared between guitarist La Cuevera, mono-monikered bassist Chetes and female keyboard-player Ceci Bastida, with regular interjections from Lara. All of them have respectable individual careers in their own right and are capably backed by Escobar and drummer Ricardo Najera.

The evening really takes off when the effervescently upbeat Lara announces, “What a beautiful moment to be Mexican.” The whole place rises to its feet, cheering and clapping, and the band plunge into a country hoedown version of The Smiths classic “Panic”, replete with animated images of a puppet Donald Trump being smashed to bits by Morrissey on the large screen behind them. From there on things hot up, culminating in a confidently massive rendition of “How Soon Is Now?” at the end of the encore.

As no particular fan of Morrissey, solo or with Marr, I was still eventually hauled in by Mexrissey’s ebullient Latino musicianship on covers ranging from reggae to flamenco-flecked. They haven’t yet reached the heights occupied by the best of offbeat cover version masters such as Hayseed Dixie, Uwe Schmidt (Señor Coconut, Pop Artificielle, etc), Nouvelle Vague and Dread Zeppelin, but they’re clearly on their way and will likely be the surprise hit of this year’s summer festival season.

Watch the video for Mexrrissey "Cada Dia Es Domingo (Everyday Is Like a Sunday)"

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