Review: Mexican country band 8 Segundos live in Queretaro

One of Mexico’s top country music acts, an experienced quartet with quite a following south of the border, returned to the central Mexican city of Queretaro on November 19 for the second time in three months. The venue for tonight’s show is La Yunta, a fairly well-furnished bar just outside the city centre.

Gigs at bars and clubs tend to start quite late in Mexico and it was gone midnight by the time the popular four-piece from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua took to the stage in their familiar cowboy shirts and hats amid a fanfare of screams, snippets from some of their most famous songs and clips from various TV appearances.

They opened with “3 Barriles,” an outstanding self-penned number about female barrel racers that certainly got the crowd – largely made up of young people – going. The energetic foursome followed that with “Guitarras y Cadillacs,” their explosive Spanish language version of Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs.”

As ever, the show is a well-honed mix of originals and competent covers of American country classics: “Amarillo by Morning,” “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and, for the first time at a gig of theirs that I’d attended (this was my third), “Chattahoochee.”

The between-song chatter comes from the group’s charming leader, guitarist/vocalist René Olivas, a consummate professional perfectly at home on stage, whether he’s expressing his love for his hometown, explaining where the name ‘8 Segundos’ came from (eight seconds is the minimum amount of time a professional bull rider has to stay on the bull) or leading the audience in a rousing singalong on “Ford 79,” another of their brilliant compositions.

Other standout moments include “No Me Digas,” “Vaquero de Calidad,” “Que Casualidad,” “8 Segundos” and “En Mi Ranchito.” Unfortunately, there was no room in tonight’s set for “Esa Noche,” one of my favourite country songs of the last five years, and also, if I’m being honest, I would like to hear a few more new tracks thrown in next time.

8 Segundos, comprising of René and his two brothers, Alex (vocals/fiddle) and Javier (bass) and friend Jaime Reyna Díaz on drums, began their musical journey some 16 years ago in their native Chihuahua and have since supported the likes of Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Rick Treviño, Johnny Lee and Tracy Byrd, to name a few.

I was somewhat taken aback, therefore, to hear a woman request a song by another Mexican country band, from Hermosillo, Sonora, who also started out as 8 Segundos at around the same time before changing their name to Forasteros Country Band. “That’s not one of ours,” explained René politely as the hapless ‘fan’ was roundly booed.

The concert finished on a high with a reworked “No Era Un Vaquero,” the second time the much-loved anthem – quite possibly their signature song – was performed tonight. It left the appreciative audience yelling for more and when it didn’t come, many punters quickly got up on stage to have their photographs taken with the four members as they were about to leave.

In all, another very confident performance from this highly-polished unit – the most successful Mexican country outfit since Caballo Dorado – who know exactly what to do to please their constantly growing army of admirers. If you ever find yourself down Mexico way, and happen to love country music as much as I do, go and check these guys out. You’ll be glad you did.

For more information on 8 Segundos, visit their official website or their official Facebook page.

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