MACUILXOCHITL: Five Flower,” the Aztec god of music and dance
By Francisco Ciriza
Alejandro Sanz’s concert at San Diego State University’s Cox Arena although well attended, failed to create the same level of enthusiasm the Spanish pop singer has been used to throughout his career. With a large and ever increasing fan base and continued critical acclaim, Sanz came to town in support of his latest BMG release, No Es Lo Mismo.
Sanz and his ensemble of talented backing musicians and singers, took the stage last Thursday night with a barrage of bright lights and roaring instrument and from all appearances began a show which looked to be full of loud, get out of your seat and move Pop en Español. However, after the opening song, the native of Cadiz greeted fans and delivered the fateful words, “We’re tired, we’ve been on tour since February,”
Due to a loose, casual overall atmosphere featuring band members dressed in sporty somewhat juvenile attire and tennis shoes, the pop icon’s confession could have been perceived as a mere gesture. An “aw shucks” hinting at humility before demonstrating his prowess and skill. After all, this very same tour was, at the beginning of this month, ranked #2 on Billboard’s-Boxscore Concert Grosses. Sanz’ is among contemporary music’s most talented composers. But with all of his classical training and obvious passion for song, his performance on this particular evening was flat. In retrospect, the impish smile on Sanz’s lips held the key to the truth behind his words.
Sanz’s voice was fine and his band was rather impressive. Sanz’ himself is an accomplished musician. He showed fans brief glimpses of his immense talent picking up a flamenco guitar for some timely strumming, an electric guitar for a tasteful solo, and even tapped out a beat on a cajon.
The performance, in general, however, seemed to lack consistent enthusiasm and drive. While some up-tempo numbers gave the impression things were picking up, it only took a moment to scan the audience and see relatively few were moved. In fact even when he made his way to the front of either end of the stage, Sanz was met by less than a handful of females who appeared more than overzealous as most in the audience were content to sit back and watch from their designated seats, and clap enthusiastically at the end of each song.
A three-song stretch near the midpoint of the show provided the evening’s highlight. After a high powered rocking and, Sanz sat down at a keyboard, lovingly caressed the keys and together with his voice produced passages ten times more powerful than the band’s entire set. .It was at this moment that Sanz showed why he’s been a winner of multiple Grammy’s. What makes Alejandro such and appealing artist is his ability to succinctly capture considerable emotion in a combination of notes and verse in a form that uniquely over packs lines with syllables and adds relatively complex piano melodies. The mix usually ends up revealing itself via a light sonic impression and a profound effect on the heart.
So while Sanz’s second to last stop on his most recent tour may not have been the most memorable, it was an opportunity to witness a serious and professional composer, singer, and musician backed by a top-notch band, off night or not.