Monday, May 29, 2006


Heavana
PFG, Morro-Cabaña

Got there too early, of course. But we didn't miss it (unlike Trabuco - they played at Pabellon Cuba yesterday and I didn't know); so that was great! It was quiet and serene there,and nice place to hang for a wee while. Martin K turned up, after spending a week in Santiago, to see me eat my words about Paulo in person. Eminencia Classica started - they're a group of reggaeton rappers and dancers who share PFG's management (I think). Their stuff is on the less objectionable end of the reggaeton spectrum; but really they're more fun to watch than to listen to. Great dancers. really spectacular. And in a country of great dancers, that's saying something. After them they had a dumb dance contest; with some of the country's less spectacular dancers, and me and my group moved away to the Morro wall to talk. We were deep in conversation when I heard something ... something good ... something like ... Paulito! I ran squealing like a Bay City Roller fan to the stage 100 metres away, where PFG and his group were already playing my favourite song. (Which I have yet to find out the title of).
His concerts on this trip have just been like a drug. They start and then suddenly they're over, and I don't know what happened in between. He's some kind of freaky magic guy - look into my eyes; look into my eyes. I went to this concert with my ex, among others; and it reminded me that we saw him at Cecilia in 2003 and he was pretty damn, well, lame is probably a bit harsh. But he was nowhere near as good as he is now. Better band. Better material, though not in the style of his legendary timba stuff; but it works really well live. Big timba-pop stuff; but without the sucky boyband vocals. And he is so great - no matter what kind of person he is off-stage - on stage he's one of the best. Great singer; great communicator. Oh I've said all this before; but man, everytime I've seen him - exept for the time it ended in fights - I've just emerged as if from a dream. His show is completely intoxicating.
Tonight I could hear the piano for the first time: pretty cool tumbao slabs; lil Pututi jnr, who looks to be all of about 9 years old was banging away on the timbales; the beauty queen was struttin her stuff to Paulo's right; and his duet partner on Te Boté on his left. That guy is a sweetie; always smiling and constantly looking to PFG for, it seems, approval. My only gripe would be that the horns are underused. But I don't know that that's a bad thing. Just different to the in-your-face metales of most of the timba bands. They go dixie from time to time too, which is weird. But it works.
It wasn't a big crowd but it was big enough and it was comfortable. Except for the dick who tried to physically force me to dance with him after I said no five times. Thanks mate.
Great setting, the Morro Cabaña. The sea; the sea breeze; one of the best timba bands in the world. Sigh. I was in heaven.

Earlier in the day I went back to Teatro America for Maravillas de Florida. The theatre was about a quarter full which was a tragedy, cause these guys really fire. Those strings - zowie. Though I'm tailormade to be a charanga fan - already being a huge fan of Chic's charanga disco; after seeing sundry lacklustre charanga bands in New York, I would never have thought that one could pack a punch like these guys. And boy do they. They've got the mandatory boy singers; but they have good songs and a load o' funk. They really worth any timba geek's attention en vivo, for sure. Really enjoyable. Pepe from Pupy was there (as was Chino, Trabuco's new bass player) and afterwards we talked to him for quite a while. What a nice chap.

© Gabriel Wilder 2006

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