For a time Saturday night, downtown Fort Worth felt like the biggest backyard in all of North Texas.
In what turned out to be the swan song for this year’s edition of Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival (high winds and the threat of severe weather forced organizers to cancel the final day of the annual event), the Mavericks took to the University of Texas-Arlington main stage Saturday for a cruelly brief but wildly entertaining set.
Led by singer-songwriter Raul Malo, the alt-country band, currently in the midst of its “25 Live” tour, delighted a crowd of a couple thousand, sprawled out at the foot of the Fort Worth Convention Center. The tempo rarely dipped, making the roughly 80-minute set feel like it lasted all of 10.
Pulling heavily from last year’s terrific comeback record, In Time, the Mavericks worked in some sharp covers — La Bamba had people twirling on the sidewalks, while Waltz Across Texas (what Malo called “a beautiful song for a lovely Saturday night in Fort Worth”) felt like a group hug — and demonstrated why they not only command such a loyal following, but how a decade-long hiatus didn’t dull their skills a bit.
The core quintet (Malo, Robert Reynolds, Eddie Perez, Paul Deakin and Jerry Dale McFadden) was augmented with horns and an accordion player, all of whom helped spice up the Mavericks’ triple and quadruple guitar attacks. Whether it was a newer tune like the set-opening Back in Your Arms Again, a Malo solo cut like the fantastic Every Little Thing About You or a Mavericks classic like 1998’s Dance the Night Away, the band started and stopped on a dime, consummate pros from first note to last.
Saturday marked the first time the Mavericks had performed in Fort Worth in more than 10 years, but watching them in action, at the heart of a true Fort Worth tradition, it was almost as if they’d never left.
The only complaint? That the performance had to end when it did. The crowd and the band alike, fast friends enjoying a warm, windy night beneath a glowing moon, didn’t seem like they wanted to be anywhere else — who wants to go home when you’re having this much fun?