Most of their collective jet black hair has given way to grey or has grey sprinkled in or at the temples, but 46-years later this band outta East L.A. still has what it takes to make a full night of their special blend of Tex-Mex, bluesy, rock jams. Performing two sets, for a combined 95-minute concert in St. Louis at The Sheldon Concert Hall in front of a sold-out crowd on November 8, Grammy-award winning Los Lobos had everyone on their feet by the end of the night.
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The first set started out acoustically with David Hidalgo on the requinto jarocho, Cesar Rosas on guitar, and Conrad Lozano on the guitarrón and eventually folding in newcomers drummer Enrique ‘Bugs’ Gonzalez (since 2012) and Steve Berlin (since 1984) on keys and woodwinds.
Rosas commented early on it was, “Good to be back in St. Louie,” but the band wasn’t there for idle chit-chat as the majority of the night was devoted strictly to music.
“Maricela” was just one of the highlights of what turned out to be the quieter, more mellow half of the night although they jokingly teased “Tequila” during a long jam of “Set Me Free (Rosa Lee).”
After a 20-minute intermission, the night turned electric on and off stage. Ramping it up, the band came out strong and more powerful starting with “Manny’s Bones” which they swirled some funk into an extended jam that slid into “Revolution” and “Don’t Worry Baby.”
They then played Ritchie Valens’ “Come On, Let’s Go” which got the crowd going even more.
They slowed it down a notch with “The Valley” before lifting the tempo up again with “Mas y Mas” that included a sweet drum solo.
After a standing ovation, the band came back on stage for an encore and performed a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Bertha” that included a woman from the crowd who scampered on stage to dance. One of the ushers scolded her to get down, which the woman ignored. Another audience member, perhaps her friend, eventually persuaded her to come down. The band took it all in stride ending the night with their well-known version of Valens’ “La Bamba.”