Concienci Asi Pa! | San Lazaro

Concienci Asi Pa! | San LazaroPhoto - Ferne Millen

Some acts seem like they were made for The Spiegeltent. San Lazaro is one of them. On a sultry Saturday night, the last in the 2008 Melbourne International  Arts Festival, the notorious Spiegeltent queue stretched as far as was possible, skirting water installations outside the National Gallery of Victoria. This pumping local Latino band attracted jiving bodies of all ages, but particularly older folk wanting to have a bit of a dance in the famous circular room.

This is the beauty of The Spiegeltent; it seems incapable of alienating any one group from a night's entertainment. The diversity of the audience was reflected in the band's cultural melange of players; a self-titled "9 headed mongrel salsa collective" bringing together elements of jazz, hip-hop and funk. As 'Latino Elvis' (Francesco Viran) opened the show with fellow band members, we were promised to soon be swept up in the San Lazaro frenzy. "San Lazaro (Saint Lazaro) is a deity of the sick and the poor and is considered a healer of physical and spiritual pain," boasts their bio. This description lays claim to some serious acts of altruism, but for the most part it is entirely apt. San Lazaro delivers original tunes as though it has nothing to prove, with a dedication to the music over performance antics. There is a subtle difference between exuberance and exhibitionism when it comes to populous local bands, and San Lazaro plants itself firmly in the former category.

Serving up a few traditional numbers followed by a wallop of salsa and cha cha to create some heat, San Lazaro were solid in all styles, with impressively executed horn riffs from Elisha Maiyah and Lachy McLean. Vocals were also strong, and special guests Rosetta and Diego lifted the presence of the band to another level.

San Lazaro makes combining music and passion look like a romantic walk in the park. It displays a classy expression of Latino culture that is easily digestible and for that reason has built up a loyal following during its five year history.

Melbourne International Arts Festival presents
Concienci Asi Pa!
San Lazaro

Venue: The Spiegeltent, the Arts Centre Forecourt
When: Fri 24 & Sat 25 Oct at 9.30pm
Duration: 1hr no interval
Prices: Full $30 / Group $27 / Conc $22.50 / MF-Y $25
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 136 166 /

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