( By Julio Enriquez )
Uh oh. The parasite known as Corporate Sponsorship has now infiltrated Spanish music.
A nauseating Sprint lightshow bled into a Ford commercial spot, thus starting things out at Juanes’ sold-out performance at Magness Arena on Friday night. Ford is the official sponsor of the Juanes tour, and their ad spot was as enjoyable to me as vegetables to a surly toddler.
What a pallid introduction, especially for an artist of Juanes’ magnitude. But, it is Juanes we’re talking about, the Bono of the Spanish-speaking world. My ill feelings were short-lived when the Columbian megastar sucker-punched the unassuming crowd right in the mouth with his second-biggest hit, “A Dios le Pido.”
The suave-Latin-male shtick so often associated with Juanes couldn’t be further from the truth. The goodwill this man spreads has his karma bank account in the trillions. The message he preaches is one of love, peace and happiness.
Juanes used his time wisely during song breaks, advocating for the indigenous people, “campesinos,” and the rest of us — both in his native Columbia and throughout the world. Juanes incited social responsibility and human unity so that someday we can live in a world without boundaries, united under a flag of peace. To further establish his point, Juanes used a slide show from a renowned Spanish photographer depicting the many injuries sustained by children working in the dangerous mines in Columbia to accompany a new song, “Minas Piedras.” The horrific pictures were tough to digest, but they drove home an important lesson to the capacity crowd.
Juanes’ catalog contains no English songs, and he intends to keep it that way. The Latin heartthrob stated, “I have done no English recordings because my guitar can’t be played in English.”
The predominantly female crowd (80 percent female, 20 percent male, ish) clamored for more of the charismatic performer. Adding fuel to the fire, a large majority of the crowd was of Mexican descent — and they were wildly vocal about their passion for the performer. Juanes revealed that, as a child, his parents sung him songs from famed Mexican artist Pedro Infante … and the ladies’ tongues were wagging.
Several times during the show, these same ladies rushed the stage to get themselves a piece of Juanes. Like a moth to a flame, these ladies had their short-lived fame on stage with the world’s biggest Latin entertainer. To my surprise he obliged with a simple hug and kiss. The highlight for interaction with the crowd came when Juanes picked up a young gal (four years old, to be exact), Columbian flag in hand, and serenaded her with “Para Tu Amor.” Eat your hearts out, ladies.
Juanes’ ability to combine an impressive amount of inspirations — including Puerto Rican salsa star Willie Colon, Argentinean rock en Espanol group Soda Stereo, Metallica and the late, great Celia Cruz — sets him apart from his contemporaries.
The nearly two-hour set was sprinkled with hits from the Columbian hunk’s entire catalog. My only qualm with the show was that my favorite song, “Sueno,” was switched up from a rapid rock number to a piano ballad. He closed things up crowd favorite, “Camisa Negra.”
Julio Enriquez is a Denver blogger and the editor of Cause=Time, a music blog.MOSTRAR MAS