Concert Review | Pacific Amphitheater | Costa Mesa, California
August 6, 2021 by Ron Lyon
It was a warm summer night in Costa Mesa, but it got sizzling quickly! Opening the show were The Blasters, the American roots band from nearby Downey. Phil Alvin, with the band’s original rhythm section of Bill Bateman on drums and John Bazz on bass, along with longtime guitarist Keith Wyatt, played a magnificent set of songs from the band’s long career, including “American Music” and “Marie Marie.”
Alvin dedicated this evening to the memory of pianist Gene Taylor, a member of the band in the early ‘80s who passed away in February. A personal Blasters favorite from the night for me and many others was “I’m Shakin,’” as evident by the dancing in the aisles.
East LA’s Los Lobos was in fine form, kicking off their set with the classic FM-radio hit “Will the Wolf Survive,” with highlights “Evangeline” and “La Bamba.” Founding Blasters member Dave Alvin, who left in 1986 due to internal strife within the band, made an appearance with Los Lobos, along with Steve Berlin, who played saxophone and keyboards with both the Lobos and Blasters. Phil Alvin returned to the stage, joining brother Dave and Los Lobos, and after many years of brotherly feuding, it was a special moment when the Alvins embraced and walked off the stage together.
As the lights drew dark for the headline band, the cheers grew louder and louder. “Can you believe it?” … those were the first words spoken by John Doe of the seminal punk band X, as he gazed out upon the adoring crowd at the Pacific Amphitheater. It was the first time Doe and bandmates, Exene Cervenka, D.J. Bonebrake and Billy Zoom, had performed live in over a year.
Like so many other musicians, touring bands, or concert-loving music fans, this was the first gathering of the tribe as it were, and it just felt good. With his trusty red Fender bass strapped over his shoulder, arms outstretched, he once again asked the 8,000 strong, “Can you believe it?” The band charged into “In This House That I Call Home,” “We’re Desperate,” and the eponymous first album title and single. “Los Angeles.” Clearly the band was ready for the night.
Cervenka was in fine form, dancing and twirling about the stage while the others tweaked instruments between numbers. Hearing Doe and Cervenka’s voices blend during “White Girl” was just about as good as it gets for fans of X, and they didn’t disappoint this night.
Among the 23-song set were three songs never played live since the album “Alphabetland” was released during the height of the COVID pandemic. “Alphabetland,” “Free,” and “Water & Wine” sounded fresh, and very much at home among all the other X classic cuts like “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” and “Nausea.”
If you missed the show, not too worry, X has another show coming our way. They’ll be playing at The Greek Theatre on October 23rd! They are living legends and most definitely a must see.
Needless to say, it was a great night for music in Costa Mesa!