Review by Fred Rudofsky
There are few bands that can entertain an audience as holistically as Los Lobos, and even fewer that have played with such gusto and imagination for so long. The multiple Grammy Award-winning band from East L.A., who appeared at Mass MoCA in 1999 for the venue’s grand opening celebrations, returned to North Adams for a sold-out acoustic show last Thursday that appealed to the mind, booty and soul.
Opening with “Angels with Dirty Faces” from 1992’s classic “Kiko,” Los Lobos showed just why it was going to be a special night. Guitarist Dave Hidalgo was in fine voice, and coaxed by Steve Berlin (on keys and baritone saxophone), he ripped into a wild solo that adroitly referenced Jimi Hendrix’s motif from “Third Stone from the Sun.” Cesar Rosas took the lead on the next song, a rousing “Chuco’s Cumbia” from 2006’s “The Town and the City,” that had patrons dancing in the corners near the stage. “Will the Wolf Survive?” the song that really broke Los Lobos in the public consciousness in the early ’80s, was roots rock at its best, drawing even more to the dance floor in front of the stage. Louie Perez, playing jarana huesteca, took the lead vocal on the mystical “Saint Behind the Glass,” replete with Hidalgo’s high octave fills, Berlin’s haunting synths and the exuberant drumming of new recruit, the ever-smiling Enrique “Bugs” Gonzales.