LIVE: Los Lobos @ Cohoes Music Hall, 7/22/18 (Take Two)
Review by Mark Alexander Hudson
Photographs by Alan Gold
For those of you who only know of the band through their biggest hit, a cover of Richie Valen’s “La Bamba” from the ’80s biopic of the same name, you are missing out on one of the most eclectic and electric canons in this
thing we call rock & roll – a Tex Mix of rock, blues, Tejano and country that is a reflection of the melting pot that is the United States.
Not that the band brags about it. They are so self deprecating they even called their 1993 compilation album Just Another Band from East L.A.
Los Lobos formed in 1973 and settled on their current line-up in 1984, augmented now by touring drummer Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez, who joyously propelled the band throughout the evening.
Most bands are lucky to have one fine guitarist and singer – Los Lobos are blessed with two. David Hidalgo, towering & statuesque, stands behind his mike, eyes closed, and delivers an exquisite high tenor, kind of like if Steve Winwood came from the barrio. Stage right, Cesar Rosas, all in black, shades, slicked back hair, exudes Esquivel cool as he spits out lyrics and licks. Both of their guitars dance and intertwine seamlessly, adept in “the ancient art of weaving” as Keith Richards puts it.
The line-up is completed by Louie Perez, originally the drummer, who now handles additional guitar duties and writes the lyrics to the majority of their original compositions, Conrad Lozano on bass and Steve Berlin, who plays sax and keyboards. Berlin’s mighty ground shaking baritone sax adds another dimension to the band’s sound, echoing the primal, early days of rock’s birth.
Indeed, if you close your eyes at various points during the concert you can imagine yourself transported to different decades, a sock hop in the ’50s, a ’60s hippie happening, a ’70s biker bar, a shiny new wave club of the ’80s, all the way up to a jam band festival yesterday – and all with Los Lobos as the house band.
If you get the chance to run with this pack, don’t hesitate.
Special mention must go to the thoroughly excellent support band Hartley’s Encore. The Albany band primed the crowd with a tight set of clavinet-driven funk-rock, led from the keyboards by vocalist Luke Malamood. He was ably joined by Chris Oliver on guitar and the punchy horn section of Zach Lawson on trombone and Jeff Nania on sax. Interestingly there were two rhythm sections who switched out during their show, Michael Gilet and Erik Pravel on drums with Josh Gordon and Brad Monkell on bass. Well worth checking out.
LOS LOBOS SET LIST
My Baby’s Gone
Why Do You Do
The Big Ranch
Set Me Free (Rosa Lee)
I Got loaded
Don’t Worry Baby
Down by the River (Neil Young)
Mas Y Mas
La Bamba (Traditional) > Good Lovin’ (The Rascals)