Category Archives: Mana
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.
- La Prision,
- Corazon Espinado
- Cama Incendiada
- Cuando Los Angeles Lloran
- Amor Clandestino
- Eres Mi Religion
- Clavado En Un Bar
- Me Vale
- En El Muelle De San Blas
- Mi Verdad
- Somos Mas Americanos
- El Rey
- Drum Solo
- *Acoustic Set* Te Llore Un Rio
- El Reloj Cucu
- Maripos Traicionera
- Bendita Tu Luz
- Vivir Sin Aire
- Si No Te Hubieras Ido
- Oye Mi Amor
- Labios Compartidos
- Rayando El Sol
I’ve been trying to catch Mana on the last few tours and something always got in the way: School, work, lack of cash, etc. So when I heard they’d be doing a Fresno date I jumped at the chance and ordered tickets right away, Mana is still one of those institutions of Latin rock that shouldn’t be missed, an act to see before you die. So my lady and I show up and I have rather low expectations. I figured the highlight of the night would be the merchandise, drinks, and being accompanied by my lovely, curvaceous woman. I’d read that Mana were playing a lot of slower, low key material and a lot of second tier songs, i.e. the songs you skip over on your Mana CDs. Additionally, the immortal “Oye Mi Amor” was being played sporadically on this tour, so I wasn’t expecting to experience it live. Fast forward 2 hours later….
Oh…EM..Geee. Mana put on one heck of a show and left me stunned. The presentation, performance, visuals, effects, vibe and audience were awesome. The crowd was LOUD, extremely vocal, knew the old stuff and even sang the newest material word for word. I’ve seen Jaguares and La Ley and I have to say that Mana out entertained them all. To top it off, it was Mexican Independence Day, making this night all the more magical. They were energetic, spirited, and played with conviction. You can tell when a band is going through the motions and playing because they’re expected to – like a human jukebox. Not this night. This band was on fire and it didn’t matter that they were playing a secondary market like Fresno. I’d wager that we received just as energetic of a show if not more so than Los Angeles, Sacramento or San Diego. Great experience, had fun and would see them again.
1) Dejame Entrar
2) Oye Mi Amor – Has only been played seldomly this tour!
3) Manda una Señal
4) Labios Compartidos
5) Vivir sin Aire – Reworked version with a new intro
6) Ojala Pudiera Borrarte
7) Donde Jugaran los Ninos – Darker feel, faster tempo, new outro and performed in costume, complete with masks, a dark stage and candles.
8) Cuando Los Angeles Lloran – With extended intro, ala the Unplugged CD. Sergio truly shines on this one. It showcases the right mix of politics, poetry, musicianship and emotion.
9) Tu Me Salvaste – Alex had lead vocal duties on this one. Becoming one of my favorites from the new disc.
10) Drum Solo del “Animal” – Alex impressed me with his showmanship. The rotating kit, cross sticking and “behind my back” sticking were especially cool.
11) Mariposa Traicionera – LOTS of sad drunks during this number. Complete with gritos.
12) Medley acustica: Eres mi Religion /Te Llore un Rio/El Reloj Cucu – A girl was pulled from the audience to join Sergio and Fher for an acoustic serenade. The girl at the El Paso gig was booed because she didn’t know the words to the songs. Haha
13) Corazon Espinado – Never been a fan of this song, but I have a newfound appreciation for it after hearing it live. Sergio even busted out a PRS guitar with a sunburst top, ala Carlos Santana. The signature Santana tone was dead on.
14) El Rey
15) Me Vale – It amazes me how Alex can sing and keep up with the upbeat rhythm.
16) No Ha Parado de Llover – with extended intro and a very cool rain effect. There was actually a curtain of water toward the front of the stage, pouring down a steady rain throughout the duration of the song. Images were projected onto it, serving as a dream like movie screen.
17) En el Muelle de san Blas – The rain screen was used again to augment the song with images of a woman waiting by the wharf. A moving, hair raising end to the main set.
18) Rayando el Sol – Played with a new intro.
19) Clavado en un Bar
One of the 2007 tour shirts
I think my brother said it best: Mana is the Mexican Nickelback (he also said Mana fans are probably Oakland Raider fans too lol). You will either laugh and agree, or gasp and feel offended. The women outnumbered the men, and the set was heavy with mid tempo ballads and unremarkable new songs. However the crowd compensated for that and made for a high energy concert. The Rabobank Arena was freakin’ PACKED, which is a great testament to the support that this kind of music receives in the Central Valley. It was a good show, great band with an awesome ability to get the crowd going. But what made me sorely disappointed and critical of the show was the fact that it was practically the same show from 5 years ago! The same songs, practically the same running order, minus some classic songs that were substituted with 5 mediocre new songs. Fans have waited 5 years for Mana’s return, and this is what we got: A boring, flaccid new album and a “by the numbers” tour. I felt no connection, no magic, no hair raising moments. It was just another gig. If you’re a first timer (and have a vagina), then you will definitely love the show. It’s a great night out and the band puts on a quality show with great production. However for other fans looking for variety (and looking for true rock) then you might be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the group, love most of the music, they’re great musicians and performers, but the show was just meh.
Coolest moments: The coolest moments for me had nothing to do with the music. Fher acknowledged Bako as an agricultural town and fittingly mentioned Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
At the end of Alex’s drum solo he turned to the left side of his kit. To the left of his timbales was a lone floor tom. Alex cracked the floor tom open and it was an ice chest designed to look like one of his DW floor toms. He pulled out a Corona and took a big swig. I gotta get me one of those (the drum ice chest I mean).
At the end of Me Vale, a young kid joined the band for the closing jam to the song. I have no idea who he was, crew member or audience member, but he was a baby faced kid, playing a Gibson SG and jammed along like a pro.
For the mini acoustic set, the band walked over to a platform at the opposite end of the arena, giving the rear a front row vantage point for a portion of the show. Some chick from Mexicali was pulled onto the platform where she sat while the group performed Vivir Sin Aire. As soon as the harmonic outro was over, a crew member quickly yanked the girl off the stage. I thought “aw how sad.” Then I laughed
Oye Mi Amor
De Pies a Cabeza (sweet!)
Lluvia Al Corazon
Vuela Libre Paloma
El Verdadero Amor Pedona
Sergio’s Guitar Solo and band jam
Manda Una Senal
Clavado En Un Bar
Alex’s Drum Solo
B-Stage acoustic set (Te Llore Un Rio/Te Solte La Rienda/Bendita Tu Luz/Eres Mi Religion/Si No Te Hubieras Ido/Vivir Sin Aire)
En El Muelle De San Blas (with a reworked intro)
Rayando El Sol
I can’t help but compare what I witnessed at the Caifanes show versus what I saw at the Mana show. For Caifanes I saw couples dance, guys playing air guitar and air drums, jumping, moshing, and grown men brought to tears. Maybe there were more drunks at the Caifanes show? Who knows. But for some reason a deeper chord was struck at that show. It’s not to say that one group is superior to the other. It’s like Coke and Root Beer. Some days I prefer one, other days I prefer the other. Both groups give the audience something savory, passionate, rhythmic, melodic, and poetic. But above all, both groups give the music fan something that is uniquely Mexican, and we don’t have enough of that in the rock world.
a view from stage right, loge.
a view from behind Alex’s kit at the Bakersfield gig, from Mana’s official page (no copyright infringement intended)