I went into Maná’s Latino Power tour, which stopped Tuesday, September 20 at the Save Mart Center, with a cursory knowledge of the band’s music and two years of high-school Spanish.
So, some of the Mexican rock band’s two-plus hour show – performed entirely in Spanish – was lost without translation.
That’s no fault of the production or the band, which played to a full (if not quite sold out) house of eager fans who knew and sang along with the entire set, which I counted a 22 songs, give or take.
Maná has been playing for 30 years and has earned its reference as the U2 of Spanish rock. It’s a nod to both their musical ability and their massive, worldwide draw. There are better comparisons in my mind – like Genesis or maybe the Police, what with the obvious reggae and ska influence s– but the sentiment holds. Maná is a seasoned stadium rock band and here they put on a stadium rock show with all the trappings.
There were flashing lights and big drums, shredding guitar solos and throngs of fans pushed up against the stage.
Done right, those things work in any language.
The strongest moment visually, came from the simple, almost childlike video screen animation on “¿Dónde jugarán los niños?,” which also had the band playing in post apocalyptic neon gas masks.
The band split the set between the main stage and a smaller elevated stage at the back of the arena, where vocalist Fher Olvera and guitarist Sergio Vallín did a stripped down acoustic sing along, that was one of the most stirring moment of the night.
In announcing the Latino Power tour, the band promised to deliver a political message to fans in advance of the November elections. That came early in the set, with an animated video that showed the historic progression of the United States and Mexico across the continent. It ended in 2016 with the building of a wall – no doubt Donald Trump’s proposed wall, depicted here as being built with bricks of racism and xenophobia before ultimately being overrun and destroyed by flowering vines.
The band returned to the theme later in the set with a cover of Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up,” which served as a none-to-subtle reminder to get out and vote.
▪ With the proliferation of video screens, commerical are part of the concert going experience now, I guess.
▪ When I say the audience sang along to every song, I meant just that. Every. Song. All of them.
▪ Bands don’t use stage fog enough anymore. Maná did. It was a simple thing, but used to great effect.
▪ I’m jaded on drum solos. Alex González is an impressive drummer, no doubt, but unless you have your own drum coaster, you should save the energy.
▪ The band would be happy to know, the most political moments of the show prompted discussion from those behind me.
▪ Between the T-shirt and hot dog vendors, there was a lot of commerce happening outside the arena after the show.