Celebrating their 25th anniversary as a band and the release of their new album, “Good Morning Aztlan,” Los Lobos effortlessly turned the House of Blues on Sunset Strip into a sweaty, pulsating East L.A. club.
It was a triumph that was sweeter because the band has overcome the tragic murder of guitarist-singer Cesar Rosas’ wife in 2000. Its effects can be heard on “Aztlan,” Los Lobos’ most soulful album in a decade — it’s more organic but darker hued, mournful yet uplifting, finding solace in community.
The band welcomed the hometown crowd with a raucous “The Neighborhood,” with the early part of the show alternating between traditional music and more electrified rock. While the new songs are less experimental in structure, Los Lobos has retained the sonic adventurousness of their last few albums. Steve Berlin’s greasy roadhouse sax rubs shoulders with the more delicate acoustic guitar and accordion on a cumbria; the chunky riff of “The Big Ranch” is punctuated by David Hidalgo’s jazzy liquid guitar, as pure and sweet in tone as Carlos Santana’s.
As the show moved along with a mid-set excursion south of the border, it became obvious that Los Lobos is as diverse and expansive as Los Angeles. The band reflects the sound of the city as heard by musicians with inquisitive and open ears. And when Los Lobos takes off, they can end up in a locale that’s on no map but their own. The band understands that while roots can anchor a tree to specific spot, they also allow it draw nourishment from distant places.