Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Los Lonely Boys/Los Lobos
Sandia Casino Amphitheater
Albuquerque New Mexico
July 29th, 2008
Concert Review by Nightwatcher
It was perfect summer weather for an outdoor gathering as the sun set below the horizon at the Sandia Casino Amphitheater in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the upper 80's at showtime, with a slight breeze to cool things off when the lights came on, heralding an evening of rock, blues and traditional Spanish music by L.A.'s own Los Lobos and Texican blues influenced rock & roll courtesy of San Angelo, Texas' Los Lonely Boys on a stop on the "Brotherhood Tour".
Los Lobos opened, coming on at pretty close to the scheduled time of 8:00 P.M.. And, I've got to say I was a bit underwhelmed during most of their set. The packed crowd, which I would estimate at around 3,000, pretty much ate up their whole set, so I suppose I was in the minority in attendance who didn't share that opinion. They were really good I suppose if you're a big fan of Spanish music. But, I am not. Latin rhythms and latin flavored rock yes, but perhaps being a white boy, traditional Spanish music leaves me cold. Nothing wrong with it if you're into it, but it's just not my cup of tea. And, since they were playing in front of a predominately Hispanic crowd, they chose to play that the majority of their set, with a few bluesy exceptions such as "Don't Worry Baby" and "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes", punctuated by a rousing version of Richie Valens' "C'mon Let's Go". Exceptional musicians, I will give them that, but I was in the mood to hear guitarist/vocalist David Hildalgo wail like I know he can. Being my first opportunity to see them live, I'm assuming from what I've heard and seen via video that had it been a different crowd, such as the one at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Festival, it would've been much more guitar intensive.
But that element was largely absent until towards the end of their set when they launched into a cover of The Temptations' "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" Whereupon, they asked the crowd to welcome a special guest, and on came guitarist Henry Garza, then bassist Jo Jo Garza of Los Lonely Boys, and that's when things started to get hot, with Garza and Hildalgo trading off searing guitar licks before morphing into an extended version of Santana's classic "Oyo Como Va", drummer Ringo Garza of Los Lonely Boys joining in on drums and percussion. Garza was nailing Carlos Santana's original phrases to a t, adding some of his own, and the combination of Garza and Hildalgo made for an extremely potent guitar duo, thus this was the definite highlight of Los Lobos' set. They ended the set on a high note with an extended jam of Richie Valens' "La Bamba"/The Rascals' "Good Lovin'" featuring all three Los Lonely Boys, and while it wasn't up to the high of the previous song, to these ears it still was a cut above the rest of their set, and they finished up strong.
A little before 10 PM, Los Lonely Boys hit the stage, storming through an intense version of "Heart Won't Tell A Lie", the lead off track from their new album 'Forgiven', a hard driving blues song which reminds me a bit live of old Ian Moore before Ian went off to become a singer/songwriter. Full of wah inflected Stevie Ray Vaughan like phrases, this was an extremely fine start. Henry Garza certainly tears up his Strat while playing, wrenching out the SRV by way of Santana guitar notes with ease. One of the finest young players on the scene, he's got a great tone, and his phrasing is impeccable, but never steps out of that style. The band did play several tracks from the new album, and as usual, even the softer tracks, when amplified and live, had a rawer edge which benefited them in their presentation. The highlight of their set was once again when David Hildalgo of Los Lobos came out to jam with the band, playing a fantastic 10 minute plus blues jam, with the 2 guitarists swapping licks, Hidalgo adopting a tone which suggested Cream era Eric Clapton. also sticking around to do the same on the closing number of the night, the band's biggest hit, "Heaven", presented in an extended form. And that was it, no encore.
All in all the band played a total of an hour and twenty minutes, which in this day and age of rising ticket prices seems a bit short, but the band are still extremely tight, and the addition of an uncredited second drummer behind Ringo Garza's kit gave added groove to the proceedings.
I do think that guitarist Henry Garza of Los Lonely Boys would work better with another instrument to play off of. When Hidalgo was with him, and also when they brought out a local 17 year old kid by the name of Jose Baca playing a Diatonic button accordion (who was wailing blues licks in a call and response, back and forth duel with Garza that was incredible), the contrast in tones made things much more interesting, musically speaking. Not that what was played otherwise wasn't impressive, but things seemed to be kicked up a notch when there was another musician pushing him on.
In summation, it was a fun time, and I'd certainly recommend seeing them. They do seem to be having fun, and it shows in their performance. I would've been happier if they would've played longer, but it was a fun time, and I would say if they come around, definitely go see them as you'll have a great time. Which with all the stresses building up in life these days is something which is sorely needed to escape, even for a little while.