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Ely Guerra and Los Fabulos Cadillacs: Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles

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Ely Guerra and Los Fabulos Cadillacs
Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles—04/04/2002

Ely Guerra was the crown jewel of a night that included a horrible performance by Joselo and a mediocre performance by the headliners, Argentina's Los Fabulos Cadillacs.

Mexican singer Ely Guerra owned the night with a masterful performance that blew everyone else out of the water. Looking like Chrissie Hynde's younger sister in look and spirit, along with some ehereal Portishead, Guerra's set was far too short and left me craving more. Owning the stage with her guitar and an excellent band, her sophisticated voice displayed artistry. Highlights included a heart-wrenching version of "De La Calle", a moody "Tengo Frío" and an excellent live version of "Abusar". Refined and radical, she is someone to keep watching.

Unfortunately, after her magnificent performance, it was time to suffer a fool named Joselo of Café Tacuba fame. Sloppy and with all the harmony and subtlety of a cat in heat, Joselo's thirty minutes onstage where unbearable. Inexplicably, the crowd went wild. Then his former Café Tacuba bandmates joined him onstage for the worst version ever of Pixies' "Here comes your man". I'm still shaking.

After a brief intermission we were all on our feet to greet Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. The trouble is they don't sound so fabulous anymore. Slothful is more like it. When the lead singer wasn't busy smoking or lying down on the floor, he seemed bored. And that's poor showmanship. The large ensemble of musicians was all over the place and not always harmonious. Their mixture of rock, ska, reggae and salsa revolutionized Latin America put Argentina on the map in the history of rock en español. But, as Raisa Gorbachev (Mikhail's wife) once said, "The thing about innovations is that sooner or later they turn around and destroy the innovators."

Still, their decade-old hits kept the crowd singing in unison and they were good to hear again. They crossed them off the list one by one as their set continued: "Siguiendo La Luna", "Manuel Santillán, El León", "Yo no me sentaría en tu mesa", "Te tiraré del altar" all sounded familiar and all were welcome. Energies meshed well on "Vasos vaciós", "El Satánico Dr. Cadillac" and "Maldito". Unfortunately, another low point in their performance was an 'N Sync-inspired dance number that was more embarrassing than ironic.

"El Matador", their greatest achievement, ended the show. One has to wonder how many Southern Californians in the audience know who Victor Jara was, but that didn't keep anyone from screaming.

For such a revered band, they could have given a little more.

  Anji Milanovic

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Ely Guerra: Lotofire

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