August 29, 2007
Better Than: Standing around under the hot, backing sun of Bicentennial Park’s Memorial Fest reggae festival.
Fidel Nadal is an internationally acclaimed Argentine reggae superstar. His songs focus on the plight and social issues of the underprivileged. Nadal is old school, starting out in the 80’s as the leader of the acclaimed roots group Todos Tus Muertos, then he went on to become a successful solo act in 2000. He just collaborated with world’s music dearest gypsy, Manu Chao in the fresh Spanish reggae stumper “La Vida” (The Life).
The tall, silky voiced Nadal routinely fills up large venues throughout the globe, so it was a rare opportunity to watch him do his Rasta thing at a small, intimate Miami Beach venue.
And who would have thunk it? But the smoky, dark and cavernous club Templo is a pretty good venue for live music. On top of that, the crowd was made up of mellow, reggae loving, neo-hippie types —with no trendy looking South Beach wannabees in sight — the vibe was chill and welcoming, a perfect atmosphere for what turned out to be a fun, career spanning 90-minute concert.
With the sounds of DJ Aleso roots reggae — Fidel took to the tiny stage, wearing a cool baggy gray suit, white Nikes and his trademark red Rastaman turban.
That’s when the fun began.
“Miami Beach, do you wanna dance ?” Nadal shouted as he began jumping around to the fast dancehall riddims of “Tu No Eres Como Yo” (You Are Not Like Me). After that number he kept the vibe light and relaxed, focusing on massive party anthems like “Leona” (Lioness) instead of the more socially conscious selections that he's known for.
Like any good ringleader, Nadal knows when it is best to interject his Rasta philosophy and after more than an hour of straight up dancehall, he finally asked: “Are you ready now for some roots?”
With our ecstatic approval, over a vintage Trojan Records riddim (John Holt’s “Ali Baba”), Nadal spoke out against capitalism, racism and all the ills of Babylon. Fidel left the stage to a massive cheer.
Many of the concertgoers headed for the club’s backroom to speak with their idol, some walked over to the bar to order drinks, others left for their homes. But one thing was clear, all of us were in cloud nine after Fidel’s top-notch performance. -- Jose Davila
Personal Bias: Fidel Nadal literally bouncing off the tinny stage for more than 90 minutes kept everyone moving and shaking — this wasn’t your typical, sit down mellow roots music crowd.
Random Detail: Fidel asking the selector “how loud can we play this?” Right before turning up the sound system’s volume for “Brown Skin Girl.”
By the way: Miami’s Fabrika music label put the night together, their mission is to promote alternative Latin sounds in the U.S.