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POP AND JAZZ REVIEWS : Los Lobos, Pogues Pulverize Ethnic Boundaries

December 14, 1987|STEVE HOCHMAN

An Irish corrida ? A Mexican jig?

Whatever you want to call it, that's what a lot of people were dancing Friday at the Hollywood Palladium as Los Lobos' always-special fiesta was made even more so by the presence of the Pogues.

While the second-billed Pogues--essentially an Irish barroom brawl with instruments--might seem a strange pairing with the East L.A. rockers, it proved perfect: Both groups are rooted in cultures that are predominantly Catholic, and in musical approaches that are catholic.

Los Lobos' set demonstrated new strengths, as the quintet added country and power-blues to its already dynamic mix of original rock and blues and traditional Mexican workouts. Even "La Bamba" sounded fresh, with a good-naturedly showboating guitar solo by Cesar Rosas. And to top it off there was guitarist David Hidalgo's hilarious Hendrix-does-the-national-anthem version of--get this--"La Cucaracha."

Even more enjoyable, though, was watching the Pogues win over the dubious crowd. After a couple of sloppy, rowdy Irish tunes, the octet amused and amazed the packed house by transforming an Irish instrumental into "Slaughter on 10th Avenue," complete with saxophones.

This was followed by ex-Clash singer-guitarist Joe Strummer (a temporary substitute Pogue) stepping out for accordion-fueled versions of "I Fought the Law" and "London Calling." Then, with singer Shane MacGowan teetering like Tom Waits' Celtic cousin, the band firmly embraced the audience with a South of the border ( any border) number titled "Fiesta."

Wonder how you say ole in Gaelic?

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