Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

It’s St Valentine’s Day and London is awash with people looking for appropriate ways to either publicly display their passion or, alternatively, to reject the commercial love circus in a defiant act of single status celebration. I may just have found the perfect band to provide an all encompassing evening’s entertainment for this opinion splitting day. You’re on a date? Perfect, this music is subtly romantic and there’s no sane way to resist swaying happily to it and finding yourself smiling involuntarily at the person next you. Single and avoiding the imposed hearts and flowers theme? Equally ideal – these songs are filled with lyrics about burning holes in people, poisoned worlds and crushing defeat in relationships. Mariachi El Bronx are here to save your night.

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Brooklyn Bowl is the newest concert venue within the sprawling monstrosity that is the O2 complex in Greenwich. Tonight’s love fest was sold out in advance and early support slots from Pounded By The Surf and Los Plantronics, along with DJ sets from Paul-Ronney Angel and Jim Jones, are fitting warm ups.

Mariachi El Bronx (all eight of them) take to the stage in their traditional and flamboyant costumes and immediately flip the switch to channel a contagious energy through the air.

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Frontman Matt Caughthran entertains the crowd – singing, dancing, grinning broadly and promising to take every last one of us along for the ride. “We’re going to play songs for the lovers and the lonely motherfuckers,” he tactfully informs us, early on in the set.

The glorious, tumbling Wildfires and the delicious yearning of High Tide, both from the new album Mariachi El Bronx lll, are the highlights for me.

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

The band’s earlier albums are well represented throughout the evening too, with songs including Sleepwalking and Cell Mates from the debut and 48 Roses and Matador from the second record.

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

The key band members also play hardcore punk music as established Los Angeles act The Bronx, which might come as some surprise for anyone only discovering this after seeing tonight’s elaborate and charming performance – but the juxtaposition is a happy testament to the joys of unpredictability and a broad taste in music.

A wild fire of mariachi love swept over the audience tonight and it seemed as though everyone was lifted by it – whether single, partnered up or too tipsy to care.

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Mariachi El Bronx at Brooklyn Bowl in London on 14 February 2015. (Imelda Michalczyk)

Words and photographs by Imelda Michalczyk. Imelda has her own great website here: www.rebeladelica.com 14th February 2015.

The whole shoot here:http://images.rockshot.co.uk/#!/index/G0000mqxXuzOGT1s