La Barranca – Teatro Metropolitan, 28 de Agosto, 2010. Ciudad (Piedad) de México.
It’s 5:26 PM on a Saturday afternoon (28th). I talk with Pascual, the vocal, musical and spiritual guide of San Pascualito Rey. He and his wife have invited us to the premiere of their BBQ, with assorted drinks and meats to go with it.
“Those Barranca guys are true soldiers, we really gelled together when the Arreola and Otaola played” tells me Pascual, reminiscing that era when they played with Santa Sabina in Mexico City’s Hard Rock Café. A memorable gig where Alex Otaola pulled double duties, first as guitarist for La Barranca, then doing the same for Santa Sabina. And now he is part of San Pascualito Rey, a fact that Pascual relishes completely. Who wouldn’t with a musician of the calibre of Otaola?
“If you see them, send my regards. We keep in touch with Jose Manuel (Aguilera) and there’s so many good memories from ‘El Fluir’ gigs, we always went crazy”.
Overwhelmed by the food and hospitality, we bid farewell and go toward Teatro Metropolitan, where we have an appointment at 8 PM for La Barranca’s gig, where they will debut their newest album ‘Ciudad Piedad’.
Personal note: when I say “we” I meant me and my fiancée, who looks at me like you’d look a kid who’s being taken to the circus for the first time. I’m dead excited to see this new line-up, as the last time I saw them was in the 2004 edition of Vive Latino. I haven’t seen them since and I can’t forgive myself, as it’s one of my fave bands in these last 30 years of human race.
The merch stand is tempting. I respond to its beckoning by getting a t shirt and a copy of the new album. The illustrations by Pedro Friedeberg are a seal of guarantee.
I actively avoided buying it before listening to it live. Robert Fripp said it best: “Recording an album is writing a love letter, playing live is a passionate date”. Today I want the date before the letter.
It’s highly improbable that we’ll shake hands with Aguilera & Co as our seats are nosebleeders in this majestic place. The view is top-notch, though. We get a little morsel of what’s to come just by looking at the instrument line-up, which includes strings and piano.
8:24 PM, no more hors-d-oeuvres . Lights off and away we go. With a sober look (including jacket and ties), Jose Manuel Aguilera and Federico Fong, followed by Navi Naas (drums) and Adolfo Romero (guitar), start their ‘this is how you do it’ lecture.
‘El fluir’ starts the gig and fandom goes crazy. They follow up with ‘Anzuelo’ (a new one) and they pair it up with ‘El sindrome’, one of their classic ones. One of my all time faves, ‘Tal vez ni Dios’ is played and I have a moment of clarity: these guys can play whatever they want to and it will always be of the utmost quality.
The night marches on with ‘Atroz’, a jewel from “Providencia” , an album that recently I heard again and I decided that it would be the last thing to listen to before departing the mortal coil. It’s that good.
One of my fave moments of the night was when, heart in hand, they played ‘Ser un destello’, segueing into ‘Mas alla de la ley’ and finishing with ‘La vision’, where a banner sporting the buildings of Pedro Friedeberg is displayed.
‘Viento Rojo’ is played, with an introductory message by Aguilera declaring that “it’s our commentary on the news of the day”. It was also said that “Ciudad Piedad” is dedicated to Mexico City and the album does feel like that.
Every time I go out driving, I like to listen to my old La Barranca albums while driving on the highway. A perfect wedding between music, smells and the landscape of this country. But we needed one album to tackle the massive gridlock in Gran Tenochtitlan and I think they nailed it with this one.
And I could continue writing an individual review for each of the 33 (!!!) tracks these titans of Mexican Rock played over the course of three hours. But I’ll be succinct (too late – #Ed) because:
1) It’s time top ut the setlist, for your reading pleasure. And maybe to know the shape of things to come if you see them son.
2) It’s been 9 hours since the BBQ at Pascual’s house and I’m starving.
In a nutshell: the rest of the gig had some great surprises, including cameos by Cecilia Toussaint and Alfoson Andre, faithful friends and collaborators of the band since its inception. Great moments were also had with the string arrangements. Even some saxophone and clarinet were sported. There were acoustic intervals and others were the sheer power of the electric guitars were a wrecking ball trying to bring the place down. A few more banners, allusive to the new album, were displayed. 2 to 3 encores to top it off, but I lost count when I lost my voice.
The quality of the show didn’t make me miss the classics like ‘Llueve’ and ‘Esa madrugada’, although ‘Denzura’ and ‘Quemate lento’ were absentees. We’re are greedy before the finest dishes.