So apparently it’s YordiS (Salsa Mayor). And KeisEL (Havana D’Primera). I think I’ve noted at least one of those things before, but then they both slipped my mind. Marbis was complaining about the Havana accent after I mimicked Duni saying “hacel” for “hacer”. She said, “My name is ‘MarrrrbiS’ not ‘Ma’bi’’!” I was reminded of the S in Yordis after their visual effects dude introduced the band members and actually pronounced it correctly. He must be from el campo.
Galiano was pretty busy - full of thin, white jineteras looking for business. Unusual for Galiano, and maybe because the gig (and the one at Miramar the following day) had been aggressively promoted, with Maikel appearing on Disco Fiesta and a banged-up Lada driving through the streets of Centro Habana with a loudspeaker spruiking the gigs all Thursday afternoon.
Their visual effects guy was playing some kind of weird and obnoxious reggaeton-techno fusion thing when I arrived and the dancefloor was completely empty. Another track in that vein followed with the same result, so he had to resort to Revé’s Jala Jala to fill it. The band came on soon after, to my relief. I’ve been kept waiting by Maikel at Galiano before and I was glad this wasn’t one of those nights - though I had noticed on the way in for the first time that the sign at the entrance says the bands will play anytime between 12.30 and 2.30. Yikes. Guess it’s interesting to know that policy dictates they will never go on before 12.30am. You often see tourists leaving before the band comes on - they obviously get there about 11, with no idea of when the band is actually going to play, and get tired of waiting. I think a lot of tourists probably don’t know about the matinees either, seeing as in most countries that’s the kind of thing that is mostly reserved for theatrical or dance productions.
I was quite pleased to see Sharon, the Israeli girl there. I’ve been a bit low since my compañera the Smoke Monstress left. There was no rush for the stage when the band started, a bit inconceivable, seeing as it was Yordis opening. I decided to fill the void.
The opener was Pa cualquiera and it set the scene for an entertaining show. I was pretty knackered,, but I dug it anyway. Mostly good choice of songs, except for the heinous omission of Se acabó el amor (why would you leave out one of your best songs?), and Yordis dominated the proceedings. Can’t really complain about that. He sang a new song, which sounded pretty good. Michel’s song Un kilo is pretty good too. Starts lame, like a lot of Maikel’s songs, and builds up a good head of steam, like a lot of Maikel’s songs.
The singers were pulling out all their best choreographed hip-swivelling moves. Trying to get in shape for the US tour which starts any day now. Think they only have a couple more shows here before they go. Things didn’t always go off without a hitch but everyone was bumbling around and laughing - even Yordis. You don’t often get a smile out of him. He is the Mandy Cantero of the Havana salsa scene right now. He did a beautiful solo turn on the intro of Sali a buscarla (formerly known as Arriba lo mal hecho); just him and Maikel on piano, which really showed off his singing chops. I don’t know whether his technique has improved or whether he just has never had a chance to show that he is a really solid singer, but he sounded great. The crowd (ie the girls) went wild.
I wish the tecnicos here would learn how to light these hot black guys. I took a million pics of him and hardly any of them worked. Got plenty of good ones of Michel, Yasser and the Shetland Pony, but the hottest guy of the bunch - and the best singer - is just a shadow looming in the foreground. Sigh.
Salsa Mayor was my second visit to Galiano in one day. I’d had a tough week and hadn’t seen any music since Monday, plus: Ailyn with Bamboleo. She’s a cure for what ails you. Jaja: Ailyn, a cure for what ails ya. She should trademark that.
I was hanging at the door waiting for a Cuban friend to change CUC into MN when Ailyn arrived, in hotpants, Helmet Newton heels, a ruffled shirt and a milkmaid wonderbra that looked like it was about to burst.
There was reggaeton inside. Boo. The last few gigs I’ve been to have been all salsa beforehand, so I guess my luck had to run out at some point. When the CdlM theme song came on (riquisima!) there was a rush to leave the dancefloor, except for one line of girls that formed a barricade in front of the stage. Boo, again. Managed to inch my way in at some point.
Ailyn remembered our last conversation and when she ran through the rollcall of countries the first up was “la gente de Australia!” She turned to Lazaro and said, Lazarito, la gente de Australia! He was looking elsewhere and not listening at all. She tried twice more with the same result then she turned to me and we both shrugged and she moved on. Mexico! Italia! In English, she asked, Where are you from? to a group of people in front of the stage. “Centro Habana!” they yelled.
Lazarito may no longer be engaged with his pueblo, but his singers certainly are. The blonde guy that isn’t Rodney is not very memorable but the other three are all pretty great. The band had ditched the funk-piece that went down like a lead balloon the last time I saw them, but still had the ballads. I went to buy water during the Que lastima song and when I came back found Ailyn sitting on the steps surrounded by her fans singing along. It was quite a scene. The duet was next. Well Ailyn makes it entertaining.
The sound system sounded like it was about to bust but held for the duration and there isn’t really much more to say except that my spirits were lifted and a good time was had by all. Will try and see them again at Miramar for the Sunday matinee seeing as my time here is almost at an end. I’ve brought forward my departure by a week. Don’t ask; I’m not going into details. My dearest wish right now is that HdP will return from Venezuela in time to play on Tuesday so I can see them once more before I go.