By: David Israel

“You’re tough but fair, and that’s what I like about playing San Diego.”

Matt Vazquez and friends were at it Saturday night at the Irenic, delivering on their promise to play a Last Waltz-style show with their local musician friends, playing some acoustic hits and covering everyone from the Beatles to the Violent Femmes.

The band is starting their nation-wide tour of smaller shows, with the intent of showcasing local talent and playing more of their collection not often played live. They did so, bringing up various friends to sing Delta Spirit songs, to help cover the Beatle’s “Don’t Let Me Down,” or to sing some Dwight Yokum (“Thousand Miles from Nowhere”) or Bonnie Raitt (“Angel from Montgomery”).

The show started quietly, with the band playing through much of their catalogue at a slower, softer version, slowing down “Bushwick Blues,” and bringing out the soulful, wonderful “Vivian,” a song about Vasquez’s grandparents. “California,” in particular, took on an entirely new life as a slow ballad sung by songwriter Kelly Winrich, normally on piano and backup vocals, and the writer of many of the bands hits. The lyrics take a tragic look at love, especially when delivered without the usual upbeat backing.

The friends invited also each got to shine, none brighter than Sam Outlaw, appearing with Molly Jensen, treating the crowd to a bit of country in advance of his June 9th show at Belly Up. And, as you know you’re going to get at a Delta Spirit show, the last hour was filled with things back to full volume, as the band engaged the audience, ending their set in a sing-along wholly appropriate of the church venue, with the audience singing along to the congregational chorus of “People, C’mon.”

The tour continues through southern California, before the band goes on hiatus. If the upcoming shows are anything like this weekend’s, the only problem will be that they put on a show referencing the Last Waltz, without actually playing “The Weight” to close out the night.