Live Review: Maná at Staples Center

Fher Olvera
Fher Olvera
Timothy Norris

Review by Erica E. Phillips

For more photos, see "Maná @ Staples Center."

WHO: Maná

WHERE: Staples Center

WHEN: 6/23/11

The long-haired, tattooed, tight-pants-and-open-black-leather-vested members of Mexican pop rock group, Maná, are as legendary as their music. Flip a radio dial in any major U.S. city and you'll hear lead singer Fher Olvera's raspy howls, drummer Alex González's smacking solos, and the juiciest most satisfying of power chords from guitarist Sergio Vallín. Oh, and if you keep it tuned after the band's signature cock-out crescendo finale wrap-up, you'll probably catch a news report about their bighearted endeavor with the Selva Negra Foundation, which they founded to protect sea turtles in Mexico.

They're totally the whole pop-rockstar package. Which is why the Staples Center was at capacity last night and no doubt will keep 'em coming through Sunday night. It's also why Olvera probably could have saved his voice and let the audience do the heavy lifting.

Not a lyric went unsung by the multi-generational albeit mostly-muchacha crowd -- from the 1992 classic "Rayando el Sol" to the single off Maná's latest album, Drama y Luz, "Lluvia al Corazón." To call it all glorious would grossly understate.

But here's the most marvelous and sort of wacky thing about Maná -- they're freakishly happy to be performing. Like, ear-to-ear grinning. When the inevitable brassiere sailed on stage during "De Pies a Cabeza," Olvera threw back his big head of long blond-streaked hair and genuinely laughed. Um, what?

As a mid-show interlude the spotlight turned on González, who took his probably 1,000-piece drum kit to task and improvised for a good 10 minutes while a hydraulic contraption lifted, lowered and turned him around. The audience screamed when González, mid-solo, opened the lid of one of his tom-toms, extracted a Corona, used his drumstick to pop the cap and chugged it. All throughout, and after as he ran back and forth on stage leading the crowd in ginormous cheers for himself, González's expression was, quite simply, gleeful.

Unplugging for a brief, lights-up, 3-song set on an elevated stage in the middle of the floor, Olvera pulled one lucky lady up beside him -- Verónica from Lincoln Heights -- and serenaded her with the 1994 ballad "Vivir Sin Aire."

Cómo quisiera poder vivir sin aire

Cómo quisiera calmar mi aflicción

Cómo quisiera poder vivir sin agua

Me encantaría robar tu corazón

It was a special moment. And, not surprisingly, launched many a makeout sesh in our general vicinity.

The roqueros wrapped up with the righteous "Clavado en un Bar" and the waving of a giant Mexican flag to uproarious cheers. The encore (which we totally called, p.s.): "Labios Compartidos," "En el Muelle de San Blás," and a bacon-wrapped hot dog on the corner of Figueroa and 12th.

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