Los Lobos
Los Lobos is part of the "Brotherhood Tour" with Los Lonely Boys

LOS LOBOS AND LOS LONELY BOYS, Red Butte Garden Amphitheater, Wednesday

Seldom can the opening act at a concert provide musical mentoring and career tutelage to the headliners.

Yet that was the case Wednesday night at a jam-packed Red Butte Garden Amphitheater, when Los Lobos opened for the much younger upstarts, Los Lonely Boys. Not that either band seemed to mind.

Officially, the two acts are co-headlining this "Brotherhood Tour," and Los Lobos was given almost equal time on stage. The way the band used its time was markedly different, however, and provided an ample view of their differing career stages.

Los Lonely Boys came out just as the sun set to an enthusiastic crowd and immediately started into "Heart Won't Tell a Lie," one of the best songs from their new album, "Forgiven." They played the song loose and gave lead guitarist and vocalist Henry Garza a chance to rip into his first flurry of guitar work midway through the song.

From there, with very few missteps, the three brothers Garza — as well as assorted special guests, including members of Los Lobos — played a tight, varied and entertaining set.

Not surprisingly, it was the guitar work of Henry who elevated most of the songs. While he is not afraid to delve into a lengthy jam, his best work often happens in short bursts lasting just long enough to be considered a bridge.

While Los Lonely Boys have become stage pros, they seem to have sadly lost some of the enthusiasm that made them an impressive live act. For much of the show, the band seemed more concerned with doing things right than having fun and really only loosed up for the last three songs — including their hit "Heaven," which drew thunderous applause — and seemed to only really start having fun during their encore, when they sang the joyfully pointless ditty "Suppertime."

On the other hand, Los Lobos seemed a band that was only mildly interested in the professionalism of their set. Many of the songs started as interesting jams but soon became jumbles of noise, with various instruments seeming to wander their own directions.

Yet, Los Lobos seemed to have a lot of fun, and the crowd definitely appreciated it, even if the band barely interacted with them. Thus, every song was a new adventure, but when a band is as talented as Los Lobos, a little adventure is not always a bad thing.


E-mail: jloftin@desnews.com