August 4, 2008
By CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER, Star Tribune
Counting the band of Mexican wolves that already lives there, the Minnesota Zoo’s Mexican-American population tripled Monday night.
Two of the biggest names in American Latino rock — Mexi-Cali legends Los Lobos and hot Tex-Mex newcomers Los Lonely Boys — kicked off a two-night stand in front of a capacity crowd at the zoo’s Weesner Amphitheater (tonight’s show is also nearly sold out).
A billing somewhat akin to the Clash opening for Green Day, Los Lobos actually took the stage first. Fortunately, most of the crowd was seated by the time the three-decade-old East Los Angeles sextet finished its opening anthem, “Will the Wolf Survive?” And it didn’t take long for the band — regulars at the Apple Valley zoo — to take command of the venue.
Officially, though, the concert was a co-headlining appearance, part of the groups’ Brotherhood tour. There was plenty of brotherly love spread between them.
First, the Lonely Boys’ drummer Ringo Garza came out to slap the congas during the Lobos’ sweaty cover of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Garza wound up staying through Santana’s “Oye Como Va,” and both his real-life brothers and bandmates Jojo and Henry had come out by the time the Lobos finished with “La Bamba” (a song they actually don’t perform all that often). Both bands performed about 75 minutes.
Some of the Lobos also came out near the end of the Lonely Boys’ set. David Hidalgo and Steve Berlin especially helped turn the trio’s “I’m the Man to Beat” into a bravado-laden jam.
From the get-go, the Lobos’ set proved that this tour wasn’t just a Latino rock showcase but a bonanza of American music on the whole. The band breezed through the twangy anthem “Evangeline,” tore through gritty garage-rockers like “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Good Morning Aztlan” and got down to down-and-dirty blues in “Chains of Love.”
Los Lonely Boys, meanwhile, blended Stevie Ray Vaughan’s bluesy Texas guitar shuffle and Stevie Wonder’s funkified soul with a little Allman Brothers-style Southern boogie and a lot of doo-wop harmonies.
Though a flashier yin to the Lobos’ regular-jose yang — Jojo and Henry even did a slick synchronized dance bit at one point — the Garza brothers also had the substance to back up the pizzazz. Henry showed he could truly shred his guitar in rockier songs such as “Crazy Dream,” but the group also proved that it can deliver its sweeter, more anthemic tunes with finesse, including the 2004 mega-hit “Heaven” and the title track of its new album, “Forgiven.”
In the end, the Boys could be forgiven for making the Lobos open for them.