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L.A. Beat

Los Lobos show the wolf will definitely survive

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I’ve never seen the Yates Centre sold out, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a packed house, Jan. 23 as East L.A based Mexicali rockers Los Lobos came to town in the middle of their 40th anniversary tour, to make a lot of noise and add a little Mexican musical culture.

 I wasn’t sure if they were going to to the mellow acoustic show or the big, louLos Lobos' Cesar Rosas playing maracas. Photo by Richard Ameryd rock show and was pleased, though a little deafened to hear the latter.

They began a diverse set with co-frontman David Hidalgo playing accordion for a couple zydeco flavoured songs sung in Spanish.

He traded that for a Telecaster after playing a couple of energetic toe tapping numbers as Louie Perez joined them to add a third Telecaster and to play a traditional Mexican eight string instrument called a jarana, which sounded like an amplified ukulele for a couple more of the Mexican flavoured numbers.

Los Lobos Louie Perez and David Hidalgo. Photo by Richard Amery
 Steve Berlin stood in the shadows on the right hand of the stage, playing a beautiful old baritone saxophone and alternating between it and keyboards.
 On the left side of the stage Cesar Rosas sported his trademark dark shades while wielding a left a handed hollow body Gibson, next to bassist Conrad Lozano who played most of the show with the back of the stage watching drummer Enrique ‘Bugs’ Gonzalez.

The rhythm section was locked in together as Lozano played in the pocket while Bugs, hidden behind Lozano’s massive Ampeg bass amp, kept perfect time adding the odd jazzy fill.Los Lobos’s Cesar Rosas. photo by Richard Amery

 Los Lobos showed the many facets of their musical personalities as they alternated between traditional Mexican music and  more country rock especially on the catchy and beautifully melodic ‘Will The Wolf Survive,” for which Rosas traded his Gibson for a pair of maracas. Lozano stumped up to centre stage to add excellent vocal harmonies for a couple of exceptional numbers.

I wanted to hear more of the country rock like ‘One Time One Night.’
Rosas joked to the quiescent crowd to ‘settle down’ but got them all singing along with the unbelievably catchy  chorus of ‘The Neighbourhood.’ The audience of approximately 500 people chanted along ‘Thank you Lord for another day, help my brother along his way. Please pray for peace in the neighbourhood.’

I thought they were at their finest when they played raunchy blues. I was also very impressed with how well Hidalgo and Rosas sang. They both traded lead vocals with strong tenor voices and each played some pretty inspirational guitar solos.
‘Set Me Free Rosa Lee’ was a highlight as was another which gave a nod to ’50s and ’60s R and B.

 They almost wore out the crowd, who were calling out for ‘La Bamba’ by 11 p.m., but after extended applause returned to the stage with most of Leeroy Stagger’s band and guitarist Evan Uschenko, as Hidalgo told them “We’ll get to that but we want to try something first.”
 So they began an extended blues flavoured jam, which included a cover of ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy, featuring Steve Berlin playing flute.
 They finished with the weakest moment of the show — ‘La Bamba.’

You could hear Hidalgo losing his voice on it as he got the Jon Lent, Matthew Robinson and Leeroy Stagger. Photo by Richard Amerycrowd to sing along. Guitarist/vocalist Cesar Rosas had left the stage by that point.

To open the show Leeroy Stagger and his band including Matthew Robinson on lead guitar, bassist Jon Lent and Deep Dark Woods keyboardist Geoff Hillhorst plus drummer Nicholas Stecz, started off an impassioned and tight set with a couple of slower songs.

‘Everyone’s on Drugs’ came first followed by his song about bikers ‘Stormy. He picked up the pace with ‘Hard Town.’ Things got a little louder as he invited Los Lobos saxophonist/ keyboardist  Steve Berlin to the  stage to play ‘Goodnight Berlin,’ one of the scrappy rockers off Stagger’s latest CD ‘Truth Be Sold, which Berlin produced.

The Leeroy Stagger Band jamming with Los Lobos. Photo by Richard Amery
“ I know why you picked that one, ” Stagger chuckled to Berlin.

 Berlin stayed on stage for a couple more songs after that including the highlight ‘Have A Heart.’
 Stagger noted this was the first show he played with a keyboardist. Geoff Hillhorst fit right in, adding lots of organ to the music.” He added some hot piano to a cover of an obscure Chuck Berry song which let Hillhorst show his skills.

 He slowed things down with ‘Maria’ and ended his tight set  with ‘Highway is My Home.


— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 January 2014 13:34 )  
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