Raul Malo mesmerizes at Woodbridge concert (REVIEW, SETLIST, PHOTOS, VIDEO)

PHOTOS BY JEFF WERTZ, www.jeffwertz.com

Raul Malo performs at Woodbridge High School, July 7.

At one point during Raul Malo’s free, outdoor July 7 concert at Woodbridge High School, a fan shouted out a request for Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain,” a song that Malo did record, years ago, but that is not a regular part of his repertoire.

Malo declined. “I mean, I love ‘Early Morning Rain,’ don’t get me wrong,” he said. “The song. And early morning rain. But I don’t have it. Are you kidding? After a year of not wearing pants, there’s not many songs I remember right now.”

Armed with a book of lyrics that he placed on a chair in front of him, though, he did just fine throughout the 90-minute show, not messing up a single word, as far as I can tell. More important, his miracle of a voice was fine shape.

Malo, best known as the frontman of the band The Mavericks, possesses, simply, one of the greatest voices in popular music, a rich, booming tenor that’s equally well suited to rousing rock and sultry ballads. Performing solo and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar at this concert — he’s a solid instrumentalist, but not flashy at all — he put his voice squarely in the spotlight on ballads such as “Blue Bayou,” “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” and “Summer Wind.” And he was consistently mesmerizing. The show peaked, for me, with a gorgeous, languid version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”

Malo paid tribute to Ringo Starr (whose birthday was July 7) and the late John Prine, respectively, with covers of Starr’s solo hit, “Photograph” and Prine’s sweetly romantic “I Just Want to Dance With You.” “Summertime (When I’m With You)” had an old-timey flavor, reminiscent of Leon Redbone.

There were some bouncy songs in the show, such as “I Want to Know,” “Back in Your Arms Again” and “I Said I Love You,” and there were dark overtones in the muscular “Come Unto Me.” But Malo sang so many low-key ballads that he was inspired to poke fun of himself, asking fans to pretend to be sleeping as he sang a reprise of “Blue Bayou.” A videographer walked around the Woodbridge High School football field, capturing dozens of playacting dozers as Malo sang.

“Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome,” Malo gushed, after the filming was done. The video has already been posted, with the comment, “I killed them last night in Woodbridge!”; you can check it out below. And yes, it’s awesome.

Raul Malo performs at Woodbridge High School, July 7.

Malo will perform with The Mavericks at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, Dec. 12; and at BergenPAC in Englewood, Dec. 14.

To see who else is coming to Woodbridge High School this summer, click here.

Here is the set list from July 7:

“Recuerdos”
“Mujer”
“Back in Your Arms Again”
“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”
“Photograph”
“Summertime (When I’m With You)”
“I Just Want to Dance With You”
“Harvest Moon”
“Every Little Thing About You”
“Lucky One”
“Blue Bayou”
“Blue Bayou” (reprise)
“Bésame Mucho”
“Come Unto Me”
“I Want to Know”
“Easy As It Seems”
“Before the Next Teardrop Falls”
“I Said I Love You”

Encore
“Summer Wind”

Here is the “Blue Bayou” video:

And here is a video of the entire concert:

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