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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2013/03/08
by Philip Booth

Los Lobos and Keb Mo, The Palladium at St. Petersburg College, St. Petersburg, FL- 3/1

During his show-opening solo set at the historic Palladium Theater, Compton native Keb Mo described headliners Los Lobos as being “from just down the road” in East Los Angeles. Left unstated: In addition to their geographical kinship is a sort-of musical connection, as both draw heavily from the blues.

Mo, alternating between his acoustic and resonator guitars, demonstrated his well-known skills as a soulful singer, adept six-stringer, and warm, friendly and funny crowd pleaser, handily mixing his kind of blues with strains of R&B and pop . He offered a bit of social commentary with “Government Cheese,” and sang about the joys of love – whether sweet (“Life is Beautiful”) or maybe over the top (“Dangerous Mood”). Halfway through the comical “Shave ‘Yo Legs,” stage power inadvertently dropped and Mo went unplugged, segueing into a sing-along on the chestnut “Stand By Me” and the woe-is-me “Suitcase.”

Los Lobos, easily affirming the group’s well-earned reputation as a great American rock ‘n’ roots band, opened with the tumbling drums, snaking bass line and flavorful baritone sax of “Dream in Blue,” with the electric guitars of Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo, and Louie Perez eventually turning spacey.

The band always has excelled at an appealing loose-tight dynamic, moving from tune to tune in a seemingly casual, unscripted manner, but locking down hard on infectious grooves. When Rosas asked “What are we doing?”, Hidalgo responded with “You wanna rock out?” And the band shifted to “Born Under a Bad Sign,” with Mo brought back to sing and play his Strat. Rosas dug deep with his solo, and Mo led the band into a little “Funky Broadway,” employing some George Benson-style guitar-voice scat.

As is their habit, Los Lobos mixed longtime favorites with unexpected gems and unusual covers, the latter including Temptations hit “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and blues chestnut “One Way Out,” an Allmans signature song.

The 100-minute set, featuring music dating all the way back to 1983’s “...And a Time to Dance” EP, also included Spanish-language dance songs “Maricela” and the cumbia “Yo Canto”; the laidback, easy-grooving “Hearts of Stone”; and the moody, atmospheric “Kiko and the Lavender Moon,” with Hidalgo pumping his gold-sparkle push-button accordion.

Other tunes – “Rosalie,” “Come On, Let’s Go” — had the band sounding like old-school garage rockers. And a raucous “Don’t Worry, Baby” was a late concert show stopper.


There are 2 comments associated with this post

mccordo March 13, 2013, 15:23:34

Great review! I was there and recorded the show. It’s posted here for download via bit torrent:

Carl Harness March 17, 2013, 21:46:35

Interesting review, I was at the Palladium for that show and it’s like the tale of two cities. My assessment was quite opposite of what you experienced and from the conversations I had with other patrons leaving the venue early as I was leaving I was not alone in my assessment. As for the structure of the entire show, Keb Mo’ was scheduled to perform a 75 minute set followed by a 20 minute intermission with Los Lobos headlining with a 75 minute set ane one encore. Keb Mo’ was barely through half of his set when the power went out on the stage causing him to go into the unplugged mode for the next couple of song. We were sitting in the second row so we saw the sound engineer or stage manager give him the “cut sign” then he left the stage. Unfortunately, Keb Mo’ did not get to perform most of his signature songs. You would have figured that the audience deserved some kind of explanation and apology from the Palladium for what transpired. We stay for the first four songs of the Los Lobos set. I have had the opportunity to see them years ago in California so I had some expectation of what they were capable of, however, what I saw & heard on this night was far from that. The sound mix was off and it was way too loud. For most of the tunes it sounded like all three guitarists were trying to solo at the same time in competing to see which one could play the loudest. In addition it appeared that the lead guitarist was more interested in his companion that he brought on stage with him as he frequently left to stage to attend to her (or whatever he called himself doing) rather than concentrating on entertaining his paid audience. For me the music itself had no melodic significance whatsoever for the tunes I stayed to hear. This was one of the worst concerts that I have ever attended.

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