Los Pacaminos | Portsmouth Guildhall Review as first gig takes place since lockdown facility

Los Pacaminos play their first post-Covid show at the Portsmouth Guildhall Photo: Vernon Nash

Los Pacaminos play their first post-Covid show at the Portsmouth Guildhall Photo: Vernon Nash

The sound of galloping horses comes over the AP before stopping and there is a cry of “Hey gringo!

This is the signal on which Los Pacaminos, seven men, roam, already playing some artful part of instrumental Tex-Mex before launching into the first song proper, a boisterous cover of Junior Brown’s Highway Patrol.

This is the first musical show at the Guildhall since alt-bluegrass band The Dead South graced the stage in February 2020 – stand-up star Jimmy Carr performed there in December shortly before being put on. at level four and all live shows ended after a brief respite.

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Los Pacaminos Photo: Vernon Nash

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Social distancing means the audience is well spaced and masks are mandatory if you leave your seat, but there are around 200 fans scattered around the auditorium.

Everyone in the group is visibly on the post, wearing their own T-shirts with the slogan “Pacs-vaxed!” featuring a cartoon of the group getting vaccinated – tequila.

While the band may feature Paul Young, that fried southern sound is a far cry from the blue-eyed soul that made its name in the ’80s. And it’s not “The Paul Young show” either – the guitarists. Jamie Moses and Drew Barfield share the main vocal tasks while Melvin Duffy provides the essential color on the steel of the pedal.

Los Pacaminos at Portsmouth Guildhall on Saturday night Photo: Vernon Nash

Drinking songs are very present – The Champs’ Tequila! gets an outing in both halves of the show – with a photo for each member of the group. And Moses’ ode to the mistreatment of the liver, Beaten and Bruised is a highlight.

There are the weird, fluffy lyrics and a few minor technical issues, but nothing stopping the sheer pleasure of seeing live music again inside.

The group is clearly having fun, performing in front of an audience for the first time in nine months, as are the fans – at the end of their climactic cover of Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba, they stand up and join them. As Moses said very early on: “It is good to get back in the saddle”.

Concerts have already taken place at the Gaiety Bar on South Parade Pier, and The Wedgewood Rooms are also set to enter the fray towards the end of June.

In 2019, the live music industry contributed £ 1.3bn to the UK economy and employed 34,000 people. The pandemic has ruined that and the road to recovery will be long and not always easy.

Towards the end, Young thanks us “for going out in less than ideal circumstances.”

He’s right, it’s not the live experience as we knew it before the pandemic, but it feels like a big step on the way back to ‘normal’.

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