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Published: 2002/12/10
by David Riddle

Los Lobos, The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA- 12/7

What can be said about Los Lobos that "those who
know" don't already know. They're a band that has
stood the test of time, literally unchanged in their
lineup, with music that defies a true label, as they
effortlessly jump from genres and tempos, with the
prowess of season musicians that have played together
for over 25 years. Their new cd, _Good Morning
Azatlan_ is easily one of the best
to grace the airwaves this year, and possibly their
best since Kiko....if not better, more diverse, and
full of soul.

I started seeing Los Lobos on Furthur Tour, in '96, and was immediately blown away by their absolute domination of the music they play. This says a lot, because they play every type of music you can imagine. I've seen them be the best blues band I'd ever seen. I'd seen them melt a Santa Cruz crowd with music that was so slippery and psychedelic that even the most seasoned acid head was twirling uncontrollably. They are full of both soul and salsa, as the crowd craves their "Texi-Mexicana". But the Los Lobos I love is the rock n roll Los Lobos, with guitar domination, perfectly executed covers, and soulful lyrics that speak to generations, and are wrought with experience. Saturday was such a night. Opening with "Will the Wolf Survive", the band launched into a set of hard driving rock n roll that would start out of the gates, at full speed, and never look back til walking off stage. For 2hrs and 15 minutes Los Lobos tore it up. Personal highlights for me were getting to hear eight songs off of the new cd. The early trio of "The Big Ranch", "Done Gone Blue", and "The Word" was absolutely fantastic. "The Word" is a gem….and this version was stunning. This song has so much soul that you could easily imagine it on the airwaves in '74, or on a Marvin Gaye album of that time. It shines. Following this was a storng pairing of "Peace~>Dear Mr. Fantasy", complete with Steve Berlin on flute, complimenting David Hildago's voice and guitar prowess. Playing his cream colored Strat, with a 'Steal Your Face' sticker, Hildago seemed nothing less than perfect. Cesar Rosas was typically cool with his delivery of "Luz de Mi Vida", which segued into Marley's "Waiting in Vain." "This Time~>Foxy Lady" was straight up rock n' roll…no chaser…well, cept for that "High Places" that actually chased it, which again featured Hildago's screaming guitar leads, complemented by Louis Perez's hollow bodied Gibson attack. Louis Perez is a gem….and if you're familiar with Los Lobos, you know what I'm talking about. His casual approach is something that makes his shredding of an axe all the more impressive…..but that's part of the magic of this band. Not only do they shed styles and genres effortlessly, but they also shed their instruments to jump into other roles. Hildago would grace the guitars, accordion, and percussion set, as easily as Perez would jump behind the drum kit….and both players would add to these instruments, rather than just "passing time". "Cinnamon Girl" was a guitar anthem dedicated to David Hildago's wife, who's birthday was on Sunday, and with a triple guitar attack, it was as grungy and wonderful as anyone could have hoped for….and Los Lobos owned the song temporarily.

After 25+ years, this is a band that still has fun on stage
its members still love what they do….and are getting better each
time I see them play. For this reason alone, I can't
grow tired of their music…a sound that is truly

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