Viva Los Lobos!
By
Ken Kase
8/22/2004 6:56:12 PM

Photo: Dianna Trombino Mestman a.k.a. Lady Di


On an unseasonably cool night in St. Louis, Los Lobos took the stage to obliterate a huge festival crowd gathered on the steps of the Gateway Arch.

For most bands that have been around for thirty years, audiences expect a “greatest hits” review and use the time spent playing new material to shuffle off to the bathroom and to buy funnel cakes. Not so with Los Lobos: The audience was equally appreciative of all material consisting mainly of the band’s music from the last ten years. Why? Because Los Lobos is a continually evolving, creatively inspired rock band that has consistently put out new and important music. The concert delivered on a cool August night along the Mississippi River reflected just why the band remains vital and relevant.

Many of the songs came from their star-studded, critically acclaimed latest album “The Ride” with fine performances of “Charmed”, underscored by Cesar Rosa’s down-and-dirty guitar work and “Chains of Love”, dedicated to the memory of Ray Charles. “Hurry Tomorrow” was a powerful slice of hard rock, providing the kind of spirit you can feel in your chest and quickens the pulse.

The band was loose and relaxed, clearly enjoying the enthusiastic reception of the St. Louis audience and the riverfront setting. Fierce workouts of “Done Gone Blue” and “Good Morning Aztlan” (featuring a fine flute solo from reedman and keyboardist Steve Berlin) brought the flow to fever pitch that didn’t stop until the lights went down.

David Hidalgo’s vocals displayed a passion, clarity and playfulness throughout the evening, soaring above the tempestuous and frenzied joyful noise rumbling from the stage. As usual, his singing provided the sweet and emotionally powerful touches that has become part of the band’s signature sound.

Los Lobos also preformed two Ritchie Valens numbers: “Let’s Go” and the encore “La Bamba” fit seamlessly into the mix, as did “Marciela” and other numbers with strong ties to the band’s Latino roots. They’re as comfortable with rootsy rock and blues as they are with more traditionally-inspired music and exotic Latin percussion workouts. The result was a seamless blend of diverse American and world musical influences that dazzled and hypnotized any living person within earshot. A triumph.

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