October 11, 2002

MACUILXOCHITL: “Five Flower”, The Aztec god of music and dance.

Music Review and Updates:

By Francisco H. Ciriza

The Maná show last Friday at Chula Vista’s Coor’s Amphitheater was another impressive outing for the sextet...yes, a sextet...the two guests deserve to be recognized as band members. Juan Toribe, on keys, has been around the band in the studio and on tour since before the first live record, ‘En Vivo’, recorded after Vampiro left the group and before Sergio joined. Playing the part of lead guitarist was a man refer: Vampiro, seems to have very bad feelings about his time in Maná. I don’t think it’s just about the music, either. It seems they were dark times brought on by a variety of circumstances.

Maná. File photo.

This is an interesting time to be watching Maná. While in the hearts of those who have watched the Guadalara natives and listened since the days of “El Refrigerador” and the rest of their first major release, ‘Falta Amor’, the group has been and probably always will be superstars. However, today the band stands on the edge of ‘superstardom’ not just in Mexico or Latin America’s eyes, but more so on the worldwide stage.

This past Tuesday, the band appeared on the Tonight Show. Following the unprecedented move by JN Media’s coup securing Jagaures’ American television debut on Conan this past spring, Maná continues to get more and more airtime in this country. Along with the tour, late night television, TV commercials and a partnership in providing scholarships for Latino’a studying at the college/university level all have the band quite busy. Again this leads one to believe this is a critical juncture for the band.

Very few, if any, interviews were granted to local press at the beginning of this tour. Concert tickets, usually part of the fringe benefits that colorfully bolster journalists’ compensation were scarce and next to impossible to secure. The band’s media firm, DBaron Media of Pacific Palisades, had it’s hands full fielding requests for interviews and tickets all the while making excuses for the band’s inability to, or was it disregard, to ‘take care’ of those who in many ways support their efforts.

The immediate reaction of this writer when after several requests for an interview went unanswered, was to think he’d been dealing with Luis Miguel’s camp again. Yes, it’s true the Latin heartthrob has determined himself well above the rest of us and does not do interviews nor tastefully or repesctfully (courteously?!?) deny in any manner cordial requests for them. Eventually, the nice people at DBaron explained the band did not hand pick San Diego finest music journalists to be left out of the loop, but rather they were so busy with all of their endeavors including th elaunching of their latest tour (San Diego was only the third stop on this first leg of the ’Revolución de Amor’ Tour).

Another indicator of perhaps a let down is ‘Revolución de Amor’ itself. While Luis Miguel holds the world’s record for most albums released with the word ’Romances’ in the title, Maná seems to have released ’The Best of Maná’, without including the hits of the past in complete form, but rather including just about everything they’ve ever done and done well in some manner on this disc. It has even been said they’ve ’sampled themselves’...an interesting comment and more interesting accusation.

Do Latino artists have to lower themselves to such compromises to gain attention and dollars? The members of Maná have been quoted as being somewhat critical of certain other artists who have attempted this giant beast, the might ‘crossover’, and used questionable strategies, yet it seems they too have done something beneath themselves for the sake of success in the ’American’ market (as if the rest of us and our ancestors were not American).

Were all those gringillos at Coor’s last Friday ‘real’ or were they planted and made to look like English-only fans? You saw them. They danced, jumped, cheered but they couldn’t sing the words...could they feel it their hearts and souls? Did their eyes fill with tears and their pride swell when Fher spoke the truth only we know? Only time will tell, as they say...maybe one day, we will be the ‘they’ and those bright-eyed and fair skinned brethren of ours will be able to sing along with Maná, Jaguares, Los Bukis, Marco Antonio Solis, Vicente Fernandez, Jose Alfredo Jimenez...maybe even Luis Miguel will give them the time of day.

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