Kiko was Los Lobos' seventh full length LP (counting their two albums independently released in the 70's) and was their first full length to be produced by the Mitchell Froom/Tschad Blake team. It was released into a grunge-infested musical landscape in 1992 (and recently reissued); it showed a band capable of remarkable diversity and development. As the previous LP "The Neighborhood" had hinted at, this was no longer a band that never strayed far from their roots-rock-and-conjunto/ranchera comfort zone. The Kiko album largely turned off of that well-traveled highway and instead took some bumpy side-roads into strange places like psychedelia, acoustic "Americana", blues, and punkish guitar blasts ("Whiskey Trail") that, although infused with some Froom/Blake weirdness still came out sounding pretty much like Los Lobos. This was clearly now a band that was not afraid to take chances and experiment.
Kiko Live documents a 2006 San Diego House of Blues show with the group performing the entire album. Although all songs from Kiko are performed, apparently in the same order as the disc, the 52-and-a-half minute studio Kiko has been stretched out to over 76 minutes. This isn't exactly Grateful Dead style jamming going on, but there are plenty of chances for David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas to crank some longer guitar solos on songs like "Just A Man", "Peace" or "That Train Don't Stop Here". This expanded approach tends to enhance rather than taint the Kiko experience---after all, who wouldn't want such a great album to go on longer than usual, or to hear such great guitarists (especially Hidalgo) let it rip? At this point, the band had been a great live act for around a third of a century, and they put their musical telepathy and dynamic range on display all over the place. They really know what they're doing here, even on the Kiko songs that they never or rarely played live before, such as the rousing horn-driven waltz called "Rio de Tenampa" that closes the proceedings.
The live sound is excellent(I can't figure out what one other reviewer is talking about in the criticism of the sound), the performances outstanding, and the overall quality so high that you may find yourself actually preferring this to the studio version. If you already love Kiko, you still need this to hear how the work has evolved and grown for stage presentation. If you don't already know and love Kiko, this should cause you to figure out what a great album and band this is. This group is exhibit A in the case against the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selection process--with their high quality releases with inventive, new material spanning around thirty years, stunningly good live shows and tenacious longevity, there's no earthly reason why Los Lobos haven't been inducted yet.