Category Archives: La Ley
This was a special show for us. It had been 11 or 12 years since Erica and myself had last seen the legendary La Ley in a live setting, and it has been almost 10 years since the group had broken up. Never would I have thought that the group would reunite, never EVER would I have believed that they would play Fresno, cow-poke country that most rock acts avoid like the plague. Ok maybe I’m exagerating. But why are they so important? Like I had previously written in the 2001 review, La Ley were/are one of the big four of latin rock, Grammy and Billboard award winners, providing upbeat dance rock in three languages. The best comparisons I can make are INXS and Duran Duran in their prime – catchy rock that you could dance to. Now add latin rhythms, upbeats on the high-hat, sick bass grooves, new wave synths, and a golden voice that’s a cross between Frank Sinatra and Simon LeBon.
So this was our first time seeing a show at The Big Fresno Fair. And let me tell you, it was a pain in the ass gaining admission (buy your admission tickets ahead of time!) and actually finding the venue within the fair grounds. It was tricky locating the theater and just as tricky gaining access. Maybe it was a low-profile show night, but staff and signage were virtually non-existent. So we were already a bit irked but finally made our way into the venue as Belanova began their set. The Paul Paul is a standard amphitheater set up, however there were no actual seats per se, merely rows and rows of metal bleachers with the seat numbers stamped on the metal backing. Some patrons weren’t in the respective, tiny-ass spots, so we had to tell a couple to scoot the hell over. Irksome. We were seated in the first row, stage right, behind the Pit/VIP area. Great vantage point but it would have been cool to score some of the VIP tickets. As we sat through Belanova’s set I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable and I missed my kids. I actually thought, “hmm, would it be so bad to go home right now?” The Paul Paul Theater was filling up and it was impressive to see this kind of support for a group that has been out of the public eye for 9 years, and in cow-poke country no less. Opening act Belanova was well received, their bubble gum electro-pop going over well. They have a number of popular singles and much of the crowd recognized the songs, danced and sang along. Belanova weren’t really my thing – too sweet, too poppy. But a good portion of the crowd was enjoying their set and helped make for a festive mood. Denisse Guerrero is an interesting singer – squeaky voiced and demure (at least she tried to be demure), but she also looked just a bit uncomfortable, and she almost fell over during the set as she gingerly traversed the stage in her tall platforms. Regardless, the tunes were catchy and the group delivered. The group played a generous 45 minute set. Selections included “Baila Mi Corazon,” “No Me Voy a Morir,” “Cade Que,” and “One, Two, Three, Go!”
Just before La Ley’s opening number, I looked back and could see that about 3/4 of the venue was full, it may have been more, hard to tell. Capacity for The Paul Paul is 5000, so it was awesome that these two groups could bring in a crowd of at least 3500 fans. What seemed like the entire house rose to it’s feet as the group took the stage, opening with “Dia Cero” – one of the big singles off their best loved work, INVISIBLE. Girls were going crazy – dancing, cheering, singing, etc. The row behind us was especially vocal and it made for a fun gig. They were loud, they sang out of tune, but it didn’t matter, they were having the time of their lives and I couldn’t help but smile. During the intro to “Hombre,” one of the girls shouted “OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS SOOOOONG!!!!” I was freaking out. Yards away one of my favorite groups was performing to a local crowd, my crowd. Wow, I thought…that’s Beto Cuevas…and Pedro…and Mauricio!!! And they performed as if they had never abandoned the stage 9 years ago. The group was tight, executed each song perfectly, and got the majority of the crowd going. I say majority because in the center-right section, rows 3-8, a large cluster of fans either sat through the performance (while EVERYONE else stood) or they didn’t even applaud between songs. Those people looked like they were waiting for rectal exams or something…pensive, anxious or sedated. Erica looked over and said “that’s what it was like last night,” referring to the Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias show she attended the night before with her sister. Evidently the LA crowd was very lame and boring during Enrique’s set, visibly frustrating him throughout his performance. At this show, hopefully that cluster of lame-asses doesn’t prevent the group from ever returning to the valley. They never come here. If you want to sit down in your seat, fine. But at least show some support and applaud. The group did a superb job. Each song flew over with intensity, precision and heart. The vocals were golden as usual, Beto Cuevas hasn’t lost ANY of the magic. I was still in disbelief, witnessing the group perform again and in close proximity. And hearing those songs live once again conjured up memories from over a decade ago and we couldn’t help but feel sentimental. Connection.
Beto Cuevas was deeply moved by the reception and applause the group received. He regularly thanked the crowd after each number and he was very talkative in general, taking the time to introduce the songs and play with the audience members. Although considered a celebrity and a heart-throb, Cuevas is by no means a conceited rock star with a superiority complex – quite the contrary. Cuevas is a very down to earth and humble performer, making him all the more likable, and the appreciative and moving stage banter was proof of that. I’m thinking they were nervous about this gig, nervous about the turn out, Fresno is an untested market for them after all. My hope is that this great turn out inspires the group to book the Saroyan or a similar venue for future dates. During the set I spoke briefly with security about ending time. I didn’t realize that Fresno city ordinance dictated a noise curfew at 10pm. The group began their set at 9pm! I turned to Erica in disbelief, and she said rather dryly “…it’s the fair.” I said “Damn it, no wonder these seats were 30 bucks and not 60.” As the group ended their main set, they said their goodbyes and exited while the lights remained off. It was 9:50pm and group had only performed 10 or so songs, leaving a good deal of beloved classics unplayed. The crowd grew restless, chanted “OTRA! OTRA!’ and pounded on the metal bleachers. To our amazement, the group came back out with only a few minutes left before noise curfew and eased into a surprising cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” in Spanish…and it sounded amazing! The guitar sound was perfect, Pedro Frugone was playing a Fender Strat with this smoldering tone to it, it sounded sexy, kid you not. It was a surprisingly good cover, but I was disappointed that a standard encore wasn’t chosen. In a shocking move, the band continued to play, nose curfew be damned. The group played four more songs, making for a semi-complete performance and ultimately ending with a devastatingly awesome rendition of “El Duelo.” If I had any complaints it was about Pedro Frugone’s volume. From our vantage point he was too low in the mix. La Ley guitar parts add color and texture to the songs, and some of that was missing this night, but no biggie. Mauricio Clavaria’s drums sounded great with great attack and tone. Clavaria dropped DW and was once again playing Yamaha drums, using a Club Custom kit in black swirl. Archie Frugone was once again playing bass for the group and it was hard to recognize him at first. A keyboard player rounded out the touring lineup. I can’t believe we saw these guys again. I’m glad we made the trip and stayed for the show. I hope they come back again. All the songs sounded great with highlights for me being 1-800 Dual, I’ve never seen it performed live before. The new song “Olvidar” was well received and sounded like a worthy new offering. There is reportedly a new album in the works. It will be interesting to see if the group has more classics to offer.
Prisioneros De La Piel
Tejedores De Ilusion
Fuera De Mi
Sin Ti (Wicked Game, Chris Isaak cover)
Surreal and heart-stopping. That’s the feeling I had when my girl and I stood up against the barrier, first row, for La Ley’s show at the Anaheim HOB. We were on guitarist Pedro Frugone’s side, stage right. We arrived at Downtown Disney super early and it paid off. This would be our second occasion seeing La Ley, but it was the more riveting performance. It was a smaller, more intimate venue, the set was stronger…and we were in the first row!!! The Grammy winning group from Chile had always been popular in the latin rock realm, but now they were starting to break in an even bigger way, their album Uno was a platinum seller in the USA with accessible yet rockin’ music, even if it was in Spanish. Of special note, La Ley does songs in Spanish, English AND French! There was no opener for this show. The place was filled to capacity. Most HOB shows I’ve attended at least had some breathing room. This gig did not. Wall to wall, packed with bodies, mostly younger latin females. The crowd was LOUDER than the band. To those who don’t know, the music can best be described as latin alternative rock with pop sensibilities. Catchy choruses, memorable melodies, short song lengths, etc. It was perfect music for a day at the beach, or a Saturday night out, or a Sunday morning in. However, this band had immense talent. Singer Beto Cuevas was an awesome crooner, whose influences included Frank Sinatra and Simon LeBon of Duran Duran. His voice made the ladies swoon, and the power made the guys rock out. It was a pure, polished sounding voice, golden. You couldn’t help but grab a hair brush and sing along, miming into the microphone (hair brush). Drummer Mauricio Claveria was an exceptional drummer. His influences included greats like Steve Gadd and Neil Peart, and Claveria played a monster double bass kit, complete with splashes and mini-chinas. He could outplay most other alt-rock drummers. Pedro Frugone on guitar created melodic lines and upbeat phrasings. There was no full time basist at this point in the band’s career, however Archie Frugone (Pedro’s brother) filled in on this tour.The music was very melodic with a sprinkle of pop goodness, which was a great contrast to the stylings of Caifanes/Jaguares, Heroes Del Silencio and Mana. La Lay is definitely one of the “Big Four” of modern latin rock.
There were several great moments at this show, unforgettable moments. After a song, Pedro Frugone kneeled down to adjust his effects settings on a pedal board. He was within arm’s reach. I extended my hand and offered a friendly handshake. Frugone looked up at me, gave a broad smile and shook my hand…that was one of the greatest moments ever at a show. The guy next to me followed suit and also received a handshake. What a great moment. My jaw dropped in astonishment. The other cool…yet unsanitary moment, came when Cuevas shook his head like a dog trying to dry itself off. His head was full of sweat, and it flew everywhere. Beads hit the girls in the first couple rows and they squealed in delight. And a bead also landed in my gaping mouth. Whoa…that’s Beto Cuevas’ sweat….
The band was extremely tight, surpassing their performances on record. “Animal” was a great opener, it’s one of their well known tracks, and the tension was slow building, then the energey level fully erupted during the chorus section. The songs were tighter in concert, more energetic, and the singing was effortless and flawless. Cuevas worked the crowd into a frenzy, commanding us and thrilling us like a latin Freddy Mercury. There were two bouncers directly in front of us. As one surveyed the crowd, the other said to him “these guys sound pretty good!” The other bouncer nodded in approval. When the staff can get into it, then clearly some kind of magic is happening. Special moments for me include great renditions of “Tejedores Del Ilusion,” “Prisioneros De La Piel,” and the surprise inclusion of “Every Time” off the Crazy/Beautiful Soundtrack. “Every Time” was a great game changer during the show, it’s an English language ballad…at least I think they performed the English version. Regardless, it provided a gorgeous breather during the show. Of special note was a rare performance of “Vi,” one of my favorites off the Vertigo album. Cuevas introduced the song by saying “…esta tema se llama simplemente…” and he held up his hands, his fingers forming the letters V and I, and the band eased into the rhythmic rocker, it was captivating. We were also treated to two performances of “El Duelo,” a slow tempo arrangement like what’s found on the MTV Unplugged CD, and the traditional rocker used to close the encore section, it was freaking awesome hearing the song twice with different arrangements. The only minor complaint I had was regarding the arrangement of “Doble Opuesto.” That song is one of their key uptempo selections, and unfortunately Frugone played different guitar parts for most of the song. The late Andres Bobe gave that song unique character with his guitar playing, it was crisp, clean and melodic with very little distortion or overdrive…it was a clean fender stratocaster sound. Frugone added his own touch to the song and briskly played overdriven chord patterns. And there was no backing piano track, which also gives this song some of it’s unique flavor. It was cool to see the band abruptly stop “Doble Opuestro” and immediately launch into “Dia Cero.” This was a very awesome show. We witnessed the magic from the first row and we were floored. After it was all over, they practically had to carry us all out on stretchers. Girls were sweaty and ready to pass out, the guys were still pumped and wanted more, it was crazy good. Little did we know that the group would break up in 2005. Thank goodness we caught one of the latin rock greats in their prime. I can’t remember the set order very well, but I’m fairly certain the following songs were performed.
Tejedores De Ilusion
Prisioneros De La Piel
Every Time (Siempre)
Fuera De Mi