Bailala, como yo
Goza, como yo
Pupy y los que Son Son
"Super-matinee" Casa de la Musica, Galiano
A late matinee at one of the Casas can I either be great or, to paraphrase myself, "a fucking disaster" (see Paulito review below). The doors open at 4pm as usual, but the band doesn't play until 8pm - leaving plenty of time for everyone to drink themselves silly. Though if there's no worry about it being a sell-out; more people opt to go a bit later - this benefits everyone as there is less likely to be an interruption in the proceedings in the form of a bit of biff.
Today's show was helped, I think, by a couple of thunderstorms that hit Centro Habana simultaneously at about 5pm. Cubans seems to be more rain and thunderstorm-shy than most - and indeed the egress of myself and my Australian friend Helen was delayed a tad by my lovely Spanish teacher Isabel, who was reluctant to venture out into the tormenta. Truth be told I wasn't in much of a hurry either - what with the band not playing till 8 - even though this could have meant we would be unable to go in.
The storm dissipated about 5:40pm and we walked in the rain, splashing through the muddy puddles of Centro's labrynthine streets towards Galiano. There was no queue outside but there was a girl wearing a timba.com t-shirt: Michelle White had arrived (ta-da!). (Later, I also found another timba geek, Suki.)
It was busy but not overcrowded inside - just right, said the little blonde girl. The DJ played reggaeton and timba - and then, to my surprise, some urban stuff: R. Kelly's (an oldie but a goody), Sugarhill Gang's She's got that VibeRapper's Delight (even older and better!) and Pharrell and Snoop's Beautiful. Man, Pharrell really can't sing for shit, can he? But I still love him.
The band came on bang on 8pm. It was the set that begins with Buena Gente this time (I like the other one, cause then you get Buena Gente and Que Cosas Tiene la Vida), and Pepe, dressed all in white, was belting it out. The sound was AWFUL, como siempre: Where were the horns? Where was the piano? What you could hear a lot of was distortion. Nice.
Still, the band transcended this: the songs are so great and the singers are really great to listen to (you could hear them very well) and to watch. Mandy and Pepe are so compelling and the other guy (in the interests of journalism, I promise to learn is name before the next post ... that's how dedicated I am!) got the crowd going with his Pon! Pon! Pon! song which I'm pretty sure is a reference to a Chano Pozo oldie, but I could be wrong about that. I danced with Isabel and Suki, and, for Dicen que Dicen, a nice-looking chap with an afro - everytime they play that sweet horn intro, I just melt. I never get tired of that song live. Odd that it packs such a punch with such a laidback groove.
The house lights were on the for entire show - to discourage fights I reckon - and as the set played on, it became obvious that there were more than a few "tired and emotional" people there: the floor was a swamp as usual, and people were slipping over but everyone seemed in good spirits and I didn't see any biff.
Pedrito Calvo - the walking moustache - butted into a song of Mandy's at one point (great track - need to find out its name) and a rapper (who I didn't regonise) did his thing during Borrachera, which fully rocked - that song is really something live - it was made to be played en vivo. Love all the false stops. Timba a Pogolotti was the closer.
Me pregunta por aqui
Me pregunta por alla
¿Donde Pupy va a tocar?
... Casa de la Musica, Habana!
© Gabriel Wilder 2006