Juan Luis Guerra
Hard Rock Live, Hollywood
Friday, June 26, 2009
Better Than: Any other tropical music night in South Florida.
Last Friday, South Floridians of all ages were treated to a hard-hitting concert by one of the greatest and most beloved artists in the Latin firmament, the incomparable Dominican singer-composer Juan Luis Guerra. The Hard Rock Live was full to capacity, with over 12,000 attendees waiting excitedly for their idol. Thanks to Guerra's international reach, the elegant crowd spanned all ethnic backgrounds and various generations.
At promptly 8:40 p.m. the carnival-like spectacle when the tall and trim Guerra appeared, looking youthful and in absolutely top form. Sporting his trademark black French bonnet, and wearing a white T-shirt with a black suit, the singer greeted the crowd with a wide smile. He then launched into the spectacular bachata song "Medicine For My Soul," from the Grammy-winning 2007 album La Llave de Mi Corazon.
One of Guerra's most impressive achievements is his extraordinary ability to expand his musical sound into new territories. While many of his counterparts are rehashing formulas of their old hits, Guerra moves steadily with original and groundbreaking new songs. And unlike the case with many veteran acts who are stuck playing those greatest hits, Juan Luis Guerra's loyal and ecstatic fanbase instead expected to sing along to the new songs.
A poet at heart, Guerra's songs always tend to use graceful metaphors to talk about love and current social issues. And Friday night show found him reinterpreting classics like the topical "El Costo De La Vida" (The Cost Of Life) with vivid energy that led the clamoring audience into massive celebratory dancing.
Still, Guerra was at his best when he sat down to sing his lovely ballads like the majestic "Burbujas de Amor" and "Si Tu No Bailas Conmigo," which he dedicated to his wife. It was during these quiet, tender musical moments when Guerra's gift for elegiac lyrics and exquisite melodies made the arena feel like an intimate, small venue.
Rounding up the show was Guerra's back-up orchestra, the famed 440, who supplied synchronized dancing, conga solos, and remarkable back-up vocals. Overall, the concert was an outstanding two-hour extravaganza, with great tropical pop art visuals, marvelous dancing, and of course an extensive array of instant-classic songs.
Personal Bias: Juan Luis Guerra's classic rendition of "Burbujas de Amor" one of the most beloved romantic songs in all of Latin music, played by a master-composer. It really doesn't get any better than that!
Random Detail: It was amazing to watch people of all ages dance in unison to Guerra's bachata-merengue songs. "Me Enamoro de Ella" even produced a massive spontaneous conga line in the middle of the 12,000-capacity arena. The spectacle of the evening was definitely both on stage and off.
By The Way: Last month Guerra was given an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Berklee College of Music, for his outstanding songwriting career.