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Mana wears the U2 mantle well

Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass., Oct. 29, 2002

By Jeffrey B. Remz

LOWELL, MA - Mexican rockers Mana are known as the U2 of Latin music.

And after seeing them do it for close to two hours in concert, it's easy to see why. This quartet (plus two musicians for the tour) not only have a slew of very fine songs which touch upon themes of politics and love a la U2, but also have a lead singer of strong voice.

Mana has been around for awhile, but surged ahead with their excellent "Unplugged" disc a few years ago, gained some steam opening for Sanata in the U.S., and continued increasing their profile a few months ago with "Revolucion de Amor," their first studio album in five years.

The group started off with "Justicia, Tierra y Libertad" ("Justice, Land and Liberty"), a theme espoused by current day Mexican insurgents. Lead singer Fher Olvera, decked out in red leather pants, is, of course, the focal point from the get go.

And he handles the job with ease. He most closely recalls Sting vocally. He bounds about the stage with easy energy and gets to the heart of the songs as well.

Fher, as he is known, made sure to explain where the group was coming from severall times. In introducing "Ana," he stalked about problems with Iraq and that the song was for peace.

The other standout is Alex "El Animal" Gonzalez. The drummer sets a steady beat back there, but he also took a turn on vocals and infused the show with a lot of energy, heightening the energy level of the crowd as well.

While not as outfront as their counterparts, Sergio Vallin and bassist Juan Calleros certainly are no slouches either.

The end of the concert showed just where Mana is coming from politically. They literally tied together flags from the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, a peace flag and flags of several other nations to show the overwhelmingly Latino crowd that all are united no matter what language or background.

Now for some acts, this could come across as cheesy, but for Mana, it certainly seemed earnest and real.

No wonder Mana is known as the Latin U2. It's an appellation that could be the kiss of death, but for Mana , they do the title justice.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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