Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Carlos Villatoro reviews a Lila Downs' performance.

Although Downs’ performance drew loud applause, as well as shouts of “Otra tequila,” “Oaxaca” and “I love you, Lila,” the crowd largely remained motionless in their seats.

In turn, Downs sang most of her songs in the cradle of her band — a skilled group of musicians that formed a semi-circle around the singer — and not at the edge of the stage.

The few times that she did venture out were memorable, giving the crowd opportunities to hand her wine and bouquets of flowers. One lucky girl, dressed in a traditional Oaxacan outfit, briefly went on stage with Downs to share the limelight.

Downs is a dynamic singer with the range to deliver low lows and crisp highs. During a rendition of the famous Mexican folk song “La Cucaracha,” Downs and harpist Celso Duarte engaged in a classic call-and-response segment — Downs would sing high notes and Duarte would match them on his harp.

Despite her ample vocal ability, she failed to involve the crowd in much of the performance. It wasn’t until the last song, “El Bracero Fracasado,” that a group of her fans rushed the stage and everyone in the theater rose for the grand finale.
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