Los Lobos on April First
by Kristopher Weiss on April 07, 2017
Music Box Supper Club
No two Los Lobos concerts are ever the same.
But the band’s April Fool’s Day show - the second of two consecutive sold-out engagements at Cleveland’s Music Box Supper Club - was truly unique.
It had guest spots.
Three different Wolves played drums.
There were traditional Mexican folk songs.
Traffic, the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix were among the artists covered.
And unlike the previous night, when Los Lobos stuck with 1992 and Kiko, on this evening, they played material spanning more than two decades worth of their discography, from the ‘80s to the aughts, and played covers going back a half-century and more.
If anyone’s ever doubted Los Lobos are among the best live bands on the planet, this career-spanning, genre-hopping mini-residency should have changed their minds.
Kiko was revisited early in the 45-minute first set with “Reva’s House,” “Wicked Rain” and “Wake up Delores” making encore appearances. Because, as guitarist Cesar Rosas pointed out, if you’re gonna relearn ‘em, you might as well revisit ‘em.
And that’s where the similarities between the two shows ended, save for a guest accordionist who appeared both nights. But on the second night, he also added lead vocals and again served as a foil to guitarist David Hidalgo, who was injured recently in a fall and may have needed a substitute squeezeboxer as a result.
Set two was 70 minutes of everything that makes Los Lobos, Los Lobos. Unlike the previous evening, this night featured Rosas-driven cumbias. The band returned to its Los Lobos Del Este de Los Angeles roots as Louie Pérez replaced Bugs González behind the kit, Steve Berlin decamped and Rosas, mic in hand, guitar untouched, crooned in Spanish.
They paid tribute to one of their favorite bands with “Light up or Leave Me Alone.” They invited “Mike from Cleveland” to trade licks with Rosas and Hidalgo on “Little Wing” and “Mas y Mas.” This was a nice gesture and the local guitarist was clearly in heaven; however, it meant guitarist Pérez spent a good chunk of the set offstage.
Moving toward the climax, Lobos (with Mike in tow) got loose with “Bertha,” even bringing the music down and tossing in an instrumental passage from “My Girl” before finishing off the Dead song in rambunctious fashion.
The encore was sloppy and fun. Hidalgo started out on drums as the mystery accordion player handled vocals on “La Bamba.” The song nearly fell apart when Hidalgo handed the sticks to González and picked up his guitar, while Rosas started singing “Good Lovin’” to keep things moving. With Hidalgo plugged in, they returned to the Ritchie Valens tune for a nanosecond and the two-night run was over.
Authors: Kristopher Weiss