Los Lobos :: 07.30.04 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, CA
With the Virgin de Guadalupe smiling down serenely from above the stage, Los Lobos delivered the tightest, most professional set I've ever seen from them on Friday, July 30, 2004 at The Fillmore in San Francisco. With multiple video cameras in all corners of the room, in the balcony, and onstage, the band's performance was taped for a future DVD release.
Jackie Green, the 23-year old guitar phenom from Sacramento, opened the show playing his local radio hits and wowing the crowd with his bluesy vocals, harmonica, and piano, backed simply by drums and bass. Green showed surprising maturity in his stage presence and chops--think Stevie Ray meets Johnnie Lang.
Before the show we saw an arsenal of guitars lined up on stage, being tuned and readied for the performance. The air was electric. A sold-out audience waited with anticipation of this special evening, and that band from East L.A. did not disappoint! Los Lobos took the stage around 10:15 p.m. and proceeded to play a two-and-a-half-hour set of blues, traditional Mexican folk songs, and roots rockers. The five main Lobos, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin, were backed up by percussionists Cougar Estrada and Victor Bisetti. Formerly a drummer and now a guitarist, Perez has stepped up front to join Hidalgo and Rosas for a three-man string attack, playing mostly rhythm guitar. Berlin's honking baritone sax and tasteful keyboards along with Lozano's steady bass add a nice counterpoint to Hidalgo's and Rosa's guitar leads. These two also provide the vocals, with Cesar's more rock-style delivery contrasting with David's sweeter tenor. Multi-talented Hidalgo also played violin and accordion during the show.
Tonight the band was all business, ripping through tunes from the new album The Ride such as the slinky "Charmed," "Is That All There Is?," straight ahead rocker "Hurry Tomorrow," lovely "Rita," and "Chains of Love." Along with their newer tunes they played older stuff like the beautifully hypnotic "Kiko and the Lavender Moon," a smoking version of "That Train Don't Stop Here," the rarely played "Viking" (with Vincent Hidalgo on guitar), the bluesy cooker "The Neighborhood," (at this point Cesar commented they were the Los Lobos Blues Band), and the crowd pleasing "I Got Loaded" (with "Lovelight" lyrics), which was the most jammed-out tune of the night. The band seemed more serious than usual and very intent on delivering a fine performance for the DVD taping, but they were still loose and played very well. There was little improvisation between songs; everything was tight, strong, and powerful. The show had no frills and fluff, just all meat! Adjustments were made and guitars were changed and tuned after each song by busy sound techs, which understandably was to ensure a great recording.
For the encore, the band welcomed Robert Randolph, fresh from his opening set with Eric Clapton at HP Pavilion at San Jose earlier in the evening, who proceeded to showboat and rip it up on pedal steel for "Don't Worry Baby" and "Mas Y Mas." Finally, the band returned for a second encore of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin On," a fitting end to a wonderful show. The DVD release will be a must see for all Los Lobos fans.
Susan J. Weiand
JamBase | California
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