Manolin’s in town. Guess he came home for el fin de año with the thousands of others from el extranjero that have been here. Limonta saludoed him from the stage at the Galiano matinee. Didn’t actually clap eyes on him myself though: he didn’t get on stage and I didn’t see him in the crowd. But then I got there about two minutes before the curtain rose and left with the first thump of the reggaeton when it fell.
Azucar Negra were delightful, as they often are; the audience was full of people wearing smiles. Again, Ailyn was singing more than the last time I was here and I’m so pleased. She’s captivating. She was wearing ludicrous towering heels as usual. Every step a death trap. She was also wearing coloured contacts, as was one of her co-singers. They suited her better; he looked a little like a lizard.
As with Pupy, the band was trying out a new singer - two of the regular guys were shunted to the side of the stage where some bands put their metales (AN had theirs behind the bateria) so the new guy could strut his stuff next to Ailyn and the Afro’d prieto. He was a white guy with a flat top and a sulky look reminiscent of James Hurley from Twin Peaks. He sang the merengue, which the flacco negrito usually sings, and which I’ve realised is a cover cause I’m pretty sure Tumbao Havana do it as well. Also everyone always knows the words so it’s probably Juan Luis Guerra or something, though it’s a little cheesy for JLG. Funny, I enjoy it a lot more when TH do it. Anyway, he sang well and had a pretty little rosebud mouth, though he was a little underwhelming. I see Limonta is still trying to fill his Dayan-sized hole. I had told Dayan on Wednesday that Azucar Negra miss him now - I used the wrong terminology I think and he misunderstood me and said, si, pero hay que escalar, and I said no, I understand that, but you know, now they’ve only really got Ailyn. He turned up at the end and jumped on stage for the regular closer 3 de Azucar 2 de cafe. Ailyn always looks so happy to see him. She gave him the sweetest kiss on his cheek.
They have this great new song where Ailyn sings “Soy la perrita fina”. Ay dios mio. It’s kind of in a similar lyrical vein to La que manda. Haven’t really got the rest of the lyrics yet. I like all the other bits to it though. Another new one goes: soy simpatico, no cajero automatico. Limonta really has a shocking weakness for a gimmicky lyric. At least they’ve stopped playing Amor por el internet.
A mi Habana went on for about 15 minutes too long and I could have done without the merengue, but otherwise I pretty much had a smile plastered on my face from start to finish. That’s what it’s all about my peeps. That’s what it’s all about.
• • •
Trabuco had decided not to do the Thursday matinee at Cafe Cantante but I hadn’t planned to go anyway. Instead, I was planning on seeing Tumbao Habana later, their last gig before some of them head off to Finland for a cruise. They’d started early the previous week - 12.30 - and when I got there about 15 minutes earlier, the DJ was playing a Pupy classic with Tirso on lead. I was stunned. Sadly, more predictable fare immediately followed as he settled in for a good 30 minutes of reggaeton. This was followed by four young lads in extremely busy t-shirts who shouted over the top of a couple (2? 3? no idea) reggaeton backing tracks. I can’t tell you if they were good or not. They were young, I can tell you that. People got up and danced so I guess it was good for them. Thankfully TH didn’t tarry long after that but I was already bordering on mal humor.
I was really looking forward to getting more of the same from them, ie most of the songs from Mambo duro. But after the opener, they launched into a song they said “a lot of people would know”. I didn’t, but I realised it was Johanna. And it was good too. Made me realise I need to dig it up. The next one was another desconocido, and it wasn’t nearly in the same league - went on for ages too. Luckily Mambo duro itself made an appearance next. Emilio from Revé, former TH singer who sang on Padrino dropped in - Revé had spent the day doing some recording - but he didn’t get up to sing the song, which was next up. Man what a song. Totally rocks live too, with the extended bit with all the shout outs to the orishas. I fucking love it. Worth going to see them for that alone. The energy dipped after that - not sure about plunking it in the middle of the set - it’s much better as a closer. The set in general was a bit all over the shop. There was no talk at all of the cruise/European trip which was weird, cause they’re meant to be going on the 10th, and they’d made a big deal about it the previous week. Maybe it’s been cancelled. Honestly, if they’re on next Thursday, I’m not sure I’ll go. I still haven’t seen Alain Daniel and next week is my last chance to brave the inferno that is the Capri. He is so great, but the crowd is so bad. It’s a tussle between good and evil. I’ll have to think about which one will put the biggest smile on my face.