Steve Berlin - harmonica, percussion, saxophone; David Hidalgo - guitar, percussion, pedal steel; Conrad Lozano - bass, guitar; Louis Perez - drums, guitar; Oscar Roasa - guitar, mandolin, vocals; Cesar Rosas - guitar, vocals, mandolin
Part of a wild Fillmore New Year's Eve bill that included country singer Dwight Yoakam, this saucy set by L.A. Latino superstars Los Lobos is a testament to how strong of a live performance the group had always given. Opening with the countdown to midnight and a blithe, Tex-Mex version of "Auld Lang Syne," they easily slide into "Will the Wolf Survive," the title track from the band's debut LP.
The show occurred just hours after it was reported that rock pioneer and TV star Ricky Nelson had died in a tragic plane crash while en route to a New Year's Eve show. At the onset of "Our Last Night," Rosas said, "We'd like to dedicate this next song to Ricky Nelson. We were real sorry to hear about that." The song is one of the few reflective moments in the evening's set. The rest is all in-your-face, good time rock 'n' roll.
Although Los Lobos had been around some time before this recording was made, they were still a few years away from national prominence and their immortal soundtrack to the film La Bamba, the story of the late 50s Latino rocker Ritchie Valens. They had just released their first full length LP, Will the Wolf Survive, and were eager to prove themselves as a formidable ensemble. The band would come to love playing at the Fillmore West, and would eventually even release a live album collected from shows recorded many years later at the venue.
Having been forced to play nearly every imaginable type of gig during their formative years, Los Lobos learned to incorporate many styles of music into a cohesive stage show. Drawing from rock, Tex-Mex, country, folk, R&B, blues and traditional Spanish and Mexican music, it is an understatement to say that a Los Lobos show is all about variety as the spice of life.
Among the highlights of this set are an early version of their take on "La Bamba," and an out of tune yet fun-filled version of Cream's take on the traditional Robert Johnson classic, "Crossroads." Both rock and Tejano fans alike will find juicy enough material to sink their teeth into in a show like this - and it was just an appetizer for what was still to come.