Review: ‘Mana’

If Rock en Espanol has a commercial face, surely it's the collective mugs of the pretty boys of Mana, the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico-based quartet that sold out three nights at Universal faster than Jane's Addiction did last year.

If Rock en Espanol has a commercial face, surely it’s the collective mugs of the pretty boys of Mana, the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico-based quartet that sold out three nights at Universal faster than Jane’s Addiction did last year.

A Mana (pronounced ma-NAH) concert, with all the bright lights, video screens and drum solos, is like a trip back in time to a Bon Jovi or Whitesnake show, the only palpable difference being that everything is sung and spoken in Spanish. It delights the young Latino attendees, many of whom began shouting and screaming for the band — Mexican rock’s most popular — long before the lights dimmed at the first show of its CAA-booked U.S. arena tour, which is sponsored by a tequila company and ends Oct. 10 at the Anaheim Pond.

Frontman Fher is a long-haired Sammy Hagar-looking fellow who’s adept at working a crowd into a frenzy. He raced about the large Universal stage, egged on by the excited kids, singing straight-ahead rock songs and ballads that were mostly taken from the group’s older albums, particularly 1995’s excellent “Cuando los Angeles lloran,” wisely skipping most of the mellower material found on the group’s latest WEA Latina album, “Suenos Liquidos (Liquid Dreams)” except during a midset acoustic portion.

Not much of Mana’s 2-1/2-hour show made a lasting impact, though, and very little music carried any distinguishing Latin flavor, unlike that of superior Rock en Espanol contemporaries such as Maldita Vacindad and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. The subject matter covered by the pop-rock tunes like “Lobo por to Amor (Wolf for Your Love)” was mostly light affairs of the heart that boasted scant substance.

Mana

Universal Amphitheatre; 6,251 seats; $55.50 top

Production

Presented by Universal Concerts. Opened and reviewed Aug. 21, 1998; closed Aug. 23.

Cast

Band: Fher, Alex Gonzales, Juan Calleros, Sergio Vallin.
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