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
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
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
Guitarist / vocalist Cesar Rojas: "How many people here are from
East L.A., besides us?"
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.
strapped on an accordion and announced: "Its Tex-Mex time."
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
Hidalgo to audience: "Lemme hear you say
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