Los Lobos Leave "La Bamba" Behind

Cover art from Los Lobos' most recent album, Colossal Head.

Los Lobos have become renowned in recent years for releasing

records that simultaneously push the envelope of music production, while

maintaining the deepest of their East L.A. roots credibility. In their show

last Sat. night (Jan. 11) at the small (capacity 500) Club Quattro in Shibuya,

which is located on the fifth floor of a building above a record store, they

demonstrated why they have also become known for having one of the most

adventurous and entertaining live shows in music, performing exuberant new

arrangements of both old and new material, delighting themselves and their

audience.

Club Quattro was packed with a decidedly up-scale crowd, older

and well dressed, but clearly out for a good time--they yelled and screamed in

anticipation of the band. Los Lobos took the stage a little after 7:00 P.M.,

beginning with "Everybody Loves A Train," and proceeding with five consecutive

songs from last years acclaimed Colossal Head* "Everybody Loves A Train"

featured a 3-guitar attack, with Louie Perez (normally the band's drummer)

handling lead guitar and low-key vocals at center stage. (Los Lobos were

supported throughout the evening by the excellent drumming of Victor Bisetti,

who also appears on Colossal Head; at times both Perez and Bisetti were

playing drums, adding an extra measure of power to the bands already formidable

attack.)

Although the songs from Colossal Headat the start of the

show were beautifully executed...



Although the songs from Colossal Headat the start

of the show were beautifully executed (including an extended jam at the end of

"Revolution" featuring a soaring flute solo by Steve Berlin and masterful

guitar work from David Hidalgo), the band didn't exactly appear to be enjoying

themselves. No smiles, no laughter, very little talking to the audience, some

of whom were calling out things like "cheer up" to the band. It was as if the

effort required to pull off the complex arrangements of the new songs required

all of the band's concentration.

Things began to lighten up, though, when

Los Lobos began drawing on their older, more straight ahead rock 'n' roll

songs, including "Down On The Riverbed" and "I Walk Alone," from 1990's The

Neighborhood, and "Will The Wolf Survive?" from 1984's How Will The Wolf

Survive? Throughout this last song, bassist Conrad Lozano was laughing, and

his mood seemed to spread to the entire band as they continued to rock harder

with more open displays of emotion.

And they began joking around with the

audience.

Guitarist / vocalist Cesar Rojas: "How many people here are from

East L.A., besides us?"

Silence.

Rojas, smiling, then led the band in

the emotive ballad "Estoy Sentado Aqui," and following a grooving "Peace," from

1992's Kiko that ended with a near-chaotic white noise jam.

Hidalgo

strapped on an accordion and announced: "Its Tex-Mex time."

Los Lobos,

with the audience bopping up and down, took off on a rollicking three song

mini-set, which included the anthemic "Yo Soy Mexico Americano" and the

traditional "Volver, Volver."

Then it was time for more comic relief from

the boys in the band:

Rojas to audience: "Lemme hear you say

yeah!"

Audience: "Yeah!!"

Hidalgo to audience: "Lemme hear you say

N'Ga!"

Audience: "N'Ga!"

Huh?

It is clear that guitarists Cesar

Rojas and David Hidalgo have the utmost respect for each other on stage,

trading solos with an unselfishness that is rarely seen in bands with two

guitarists, let alone two as extraordinarily competent as Rojas and Hidalgo.

Los Lobos closed their set with two more from Colossal Head, "Marisela,"

and "Mas Y Mas," and when the audience called them back for an encore, the band

responded with their own "Train Don't Stop Here," and then a surprisingly

straight-on chunky rendition of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," featuring Perez

back on guitar and dead-on harmony vocals from Perez, Hidalgo, and Rojas.

This final blow out sent the crowd over the top, and when Los Lobos left

the stage for the second time of the evening, the crowd refused to stop

screaming until they came back again. By this time, Los Lobos had succeeded in

uniting everyone in the room on the uplifting strength and diversity of their

performance. For their final encore, Rojas and Hidalgo took requests, bridging

any distance that remained between band and audience--and they finished off the

evening with two of their classics, "I Got To Let You Know" and "Don't Worry

Baby," sending everyone, including all the members of the band, home with a

smile.



VMAs 2018