Mana @ Save Mart Center, Fresno CA 06/16/15

I love the fact that this group continues to perform in the Central Valley. They can still put out quality material, for the most part, and their live shows are always a riveting experience. Spanish language rock acts that tour this area are few and far between. La Ley and Molotov graced this area with gigs in October and December of last year…that was a long time ago. La Barranca also did a gig somewhat recently, but since that time, The Valley has been pretty dry, for more reasons than one. Fortunately, Mana’s new offering, Cama Incendiada, is actually pretty good and waaaaaay better than Drama Y Luz. Drama Y Luz is better used as a coaster or a paper weight. Granted, I was pretty hard on the group the last touring cycle, but a stronger album also means a stronger tour. So I was excited to pick up some decent tickets, $100+ a piece, lower level. The last two Mana gigs we had seats up in the rafters, so it was time to experience the group from a closer vantage point. Went the extra mile and made the player move of arranging transport by Limo for the girls and I. We enjoyed the limo company’s alcohol, stopped at In n’ Out for some grub and arrived at the venue with no trouble at all. Props to our driver for finding an alternate route, free from traffic congestion. We entered Save Mart Center through the Shaw entrance and didn’t even have to wait in line. We had a pretty good view from section 107 in the lower rows. We found our seats easily and enjoyed some tall ass frozen margaritas and waited for the show to begin. There was no opener scheduled and we anticipated Mana to go around 8:45. The entire evening was unfolding effortlessly and all the planets seemed to be aligned.

The group appeared and one could tell that Fresno missed them IMMENSELY. The reception was warm and it looked like the entire venue was on its feet. The band performed tightly as always and the new songs have been very well rehearsed. The light and video show were unique and very different from the last couple tours. The band used X-shaped lighting rigs that were suspended from the wings. The rigs would elevate and lower depending on the song choice. And the lights housed within the X-rigs moved independently, bathing the stage and the crowd with brilliant shades of color from multiple directions or in synchrony. The accompanying videos were a great touch, coloring the songs with collages of images, adding to the mood and vibe of the songs. A tribute to rainforest activist Chico Mendez was used during “Cuando Los Angeles Lloran” and a video of colorful sugar skulls were used during “Me Vale,” for example. Video of a burning bed was used during “Cama Incendiada” and the official video for “Mi Verdad” was projected onto a giant white curtain while the band performed behind. A b-stage was again used at the rear of the venue for the acoustic section. The mini stage was made to look like a bed, complete with a white bed skirt and metal, ivory colored head and footboards. About the band’s performance, Fher was flat on a couple occasions but no big mess-ups. Unfortunately the mix was very boomey with lots of low end. Fher’s vocals had a lot of echo to them and it was difficult to make out what he was saying during his monologues with the audience. Alex’s vocals came through more clearly on the other hand, especially when he introduced the local guest guitarist right before “Me Vale.” Overall, the sound wasn’t bad but it could have used some tweaking and improvement. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a bad Mana performance. Personally, I was underwhelmed by Alex’s snare drum and stripped down kit. He created some buzz before the tour began by mentioning DW was designing a new kit for him and he was very excited about it. The kit from the last two touring cycles were more bad-ass in comparison: they sounded and looked beautiful, sexy even. The main snare was thuddy and too low pitched for my tastes, more appropriate for softer selections. A second snare, a piccolo, was to the left of the high hat and used sparingly. And the kit was reduced to one rack tom, a 12 inch. A single timbale, two floor toms and four Octobans to the left of the hi-hat completed the drum setup. I appreciate Alex trying different snare sizes and tunings, but this band’s music demands the commanding snap of a piccolo snare or a standard sized snare tuned way the hell up. The music sounds more exciting that way. Alex’s drum solo had added flare to it, literally. Pyrotechnics were used, with flames shooting out from around Alex’s kit while he laid down his solo. Similar performance from the last couple tours, but the snare was all wrong, damn it. Juan Calleros did his thing, and oddly enough he was hooded the first half of the set, I wasn’t sure if it was even him on stage. But the stance was definitely his, the lean that he does while laying down his bass parts, and the man never moves! And Sergio Vallin did great guitar work as always and had a brief solo spot. His tone was fiery on “Corazon Espinado” and his playing overall was flawless. The songs went over very well but there hasn’t been much change to the arrangements the last few tours. To change it up,”Oye Mi Amor” was used to start off the encore section, this time with a remixed, EDM styled intro. “Clavado En Un Bar” was played early in the set instead of the usual set ending slot.

Unlike the 2012 Drama Y Luz gig I attended, this set flowed very well while featuring 4 of the new songs and a couple covers. There’s variety to this new album, Cama Incendiada, and the songs are memorable and anthemic, unlike the flaccid and forgettable crap on Drama Y Luz. The remainder of the set featured fair representation from most of the group’s back catalog. The older songs supported the new material and the tracks complimented one another very well. Absent from the set were most of the well-known rockers and jungle grooves, songs which I personally prefer. However this night’s set, although a bit low-key and pop rock, was still very entertaining. I have to accept that I will most likely never see “Selva Negra” or “Ana” performed live. Highlight of the night had to be Somos Mas Americanos, a corrido that brought out the Mexicano/Mexicana in everyone. The onscreen lyrics and visuals that went along with SMA were appropriate and very well done, making for a great connection and all-around performance. “El Rey” followed “Somos Mas Americanos,” an excellent and spirited 1-2 punch of Mexican standards. Continuing that vibe, a great cover of Los Bukis “Si No Te Hubieras Ido” was performed at the end of the acoustic set, inspiring a sentimental sing-along with the audience. While I feel this set was stronger than the 2012 Bakersfield set, I think this night’s Fresno crowd was a bit more tame and restrained in comparison to our South Valley brethren. I could see that Mana had the Fresno crowd to their feet. But in comparison, the Bakersfield crowd went nuts and lost their minds when the group performed. I’m thinking the Bakersfield crowd is more appreciative because let’s face it, they get jack shit in regards to big name concerts (besides the country superstars and say, Kelly Clarkson). This show was close to a sell-out, probably over 90% capacity. I could see clusters of empty seats up in the nose bleeds, as well as a few semi empty rows in the lower level at the rear of the venue. I’m speculating that the Tuesday night gig as well as economics played a factor in that. The group went on stage at 8:45 and didn’t stop until 11, not too shabby. See this group if you can, they’re not getting any younger. Amazingly, Fher and Juan Calleros are now in their 50s. Alex Gonzalez is 46 and Sergio Vallin is 41. Mana can still put on a great show. It was a very fun and entertaining night, definitely wouldn’t mind repeating that at again.

  1. La Prision,
  2. Corazon Espinado
  3. Cama Incendiada
  4. Cuando Los Angeles Lloran
  5. Amor Clandestino
  6. Eres Mi Religion
  7. Clavado En Un Bar
  8. Me Vale
  9. En El Muelle De San Blas
  10. Mi Verdad
  11. Somos Mas Americanos
  12. El Rey
  13. Drum Solo
  14. *Acoustic Set*  Te Llore Un Rio
  15. El Reloj Cucu
  16. Maripos Traicionera
  17. Bendita Tu Luz
  18. Vivir Sin Aire
  19. Si No Te Hubieras Ido
  20. Oye Mi Amor
  21. Labios Compartidos
  22. Rayando El Sol

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Posted on October 16, 2015, in Concerts: 2012 - Present, Mana and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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