429 Records 2013
“Just another band from East L.A.” cross over to the East Coast to celebrate their four decades of sparks-flying.
It’s hard to believe LOS LOBOS have been lurking in the urban jungle for 40 years now for, while SANTANA – the original bringers of Chicano blood into the heart of rock – always had a heavy undercurrent to them, this band prefer to step lightly. That’s how David Hidalgo and his compadres emerged on the City Winery stage in December 2012: youthful and invigorated.
On record, their kind of barrio festival usually sounds dry, but before the audience the quintet come alive at full force which transforms the previously cool “La Venganza De Los Pelados” into a quiet storm, although the air of vivacity fills the ether from the first tight twang of “The Neighborhood” with Louie Pérez’s drums sending a good vibe around and Steve Berlin’s sax setting the tension high. And yes, it’s electric, ever more so in the “Tears Of God” blues as opposed to the accordion-abetted acoustics of “Maria Christina,” so don’t be misguided by the “unplugged” artwork. Strangely, there’s not a single ’70s song for such a spirit of things, the earliest cut on offer being the perky ska of “I Got To Let You Know” from 1984, while the band’s recent endeavors are represented well, as the laidback, if arresting, title track from their latest studio work, 2010’s “Tin Can Trust,” and the catchy swirl of “Chuco’s Cumbia” off 2006’s “The Town And The City” stress the veterans’ steel-and-glass approach.
This concrete urbanity is warmed in the shiny likes of “Malaque” with Hidalgo’s soulful lead and guitar that goes all rockabilly, especially when joined by César Rosas’ bajo sexto, albeit in the concert surrounding a PROCOL HARUM provenance of the organ-oiled “Little Things” becomes too obvious. But then there’s “La Bamba” which LOS LOBOS have long made their calling card and cross with “Good Lovin'” here, having crossed America to wrap it up in their lupine energy. Long may they run.