Lila DownsThe Chan Centre for Performing Arts
Lila Downs in Concert

Date and Venue 21 April 2013, 7pm | Chan Centre for Performing Arts, UBC

Reviewer Ed Farolan

What a dynamo! Charismatic Mexican American singer/songwriter Lila Downs got the audience raving at her songs in her triumphant return to Vancouver. The audience, composed mainly of Mexicans, were clamoring "Otra! Otra!! Otra!" when she ended her repertoire. And surprise, surprise! She came back onstage with Los Dorados, a Mariachi ensemble based in Vancouver. She sang a mariachi with them, and still after this encore, her band came back, and like a Mexican fiesta, she gave her all belting out a joyous song in this finale with her band and the Dorados.

It was a full house, and typical of concerts that are held in Mexico and Latin America, the audience would shout out to her in-between songs, "Mamacita!" or other endearing phrases. She would smile and sayd "Muchas gracias!" for the kindness Vancouver with which Vancouver welcomed her. This chicana (Mexican-American) was indeed welcomed dearly by this one-night audience. What an emotional night!

She made a truly triumphant comeback to Vancouver. Her songs included a program that fused traditional Mexican music with blues, jazz, and soul. She sang the popular "La Bamba" and "Paloma", as well as the traditional Mariachi songs of Jimenez. She sang a rooster song from Vera Cruz getting the audience to sing with her "kikirikiki and "kakaka", then a sad folk song originating from Oaxaco, Mexico where she is from originally, and English songs reflecting the plight of the First Nations of North America, among other songs.

Her latest album, Pecados y Milagros (Sins and Miracles), was heavily influenced by traditional Mexican votive paintings. In turn, Downs was inspired to commission spectacular votive paintings for each track, which were featured as projections throughout the concert.

© 2013 Ed Farolan