Online since August 2002

We're a Mexican band

From the Winter 2004 issue.

Tom Dowd & The Language of Music
Acceso Total
By Maná

Warner Bros.: 2004

To learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

One of the biggest draws in the world is barely known to English speakers in this country. But if you've never heard of Maná, your Latino neighbors surely have. They're the Beatles of Latin America – a band so hugely popular that they regularly fill outdoor stadiums, something no American or British act outside the Rolling Stones can claim anymore.

A new DVD of Maná in concert shows the excitement isn't merely hype. No flash in the pan, Maná has been honing their sound for two and a half decades now – tightening their songwriting skills, developing a sound instantly recognizable as their own.

And in an act of loyalty that has earned them the undying return loyalty of their fans, Maná nas continued to perform in Spanish. Unlike other non-American or British bands that have performed in English in order to gain the kind of money an American fan base can provide (think Germany's Scorpions or the Dutch Golden Earring), Maná has decided that they prefer to perform for their original fans.

But this isn't Mexican folk or even pop music, despite the band's origins in Guadalajara. This is rock 'n' roll a la Boston or the Kinks, with flashy guitar passages and showy drum solos. It is rock music as over-the-top spectatcle, the sort of phenomenon that Kid Rock wishes he had going. Maná is the kind of band where kids will sleep outside the box office for a chance at a ticket

In concert (most of the footage on the DVD is taken from live concerts, with some behind-the-scenes filler), the band is charismatic and polished. The band's music is mainstream pop rock, obviously influenced by the Police, Beatles and other international acts of the 1970s and '80s. If the songs aren't instantly familiar to Anglo ears, they are melodic and catchy. Lead singer Fher has more than a passing tonal similarity to Sting (as well as only having one name).

The audiences clearly know just about every song by heart – singing along in delight at every chance.

And that's what comes through most about this DVD – like the Stones, a Maná concert is a love fest between band and audience. When Maná comes to town, it is an event, a happening.

A Maná concert is simply the place to be.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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