Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheatre
Tucson, Arizona - August 31, 2003
What a HUGE crowd!!! Traffic was backed up for miles to get into the venue. They must have oversold the general admission tickets because this place was a giant sea of humanity. In maybe 25 GK concerts, I can't remember ever being at a venue as large which was as crowded. I mean, crowded to the point where the crowd itself was so distracting that it was hard to enjoy the music! We even left early to beat the traffic getting out. That was a first!
The sound was rather muddy (sorry, Frank) until we got about a quarter mile from the venue (on the way to the car). Then it sounded much clearer.
The show was pretty much as previous shows described here. Mario certainly held his own but, as many have said, he still lacks the duende of Tonino. His playing was, however, skilled and impressive.
Let me start by saying that the Reno show started looking like a private juerga in a Lysean field compared to this debacle.
FIrst of all, the show was frighteningly oversold. The "lawn" section resembled a grassy sardine can with not nearly enough room for the people who were spilling over into the walkways and fringes. And it looked worse down at the reserved seats. People milling about to and fro and not particularly interested in the music made it even more of a bummer.
Now most of you might not know but Lauren gets easily pissed off when she thinks things aren't run the way they should be. (note the punctuating use of the third person) The venue does not allow patrons to bring bottles of water in. OK, so they want to sell their $2 bottles of water - I'll give them that. But remember this is the desert - it's hot, it's humid right now and water is essential. Well, I missed most of the first set while waiting in line to buy a fucking bottle of water. The line wasn't moving perceptibly at all. The concession stand sells food, mixed drinks, beer and bottles of water and in the AVA's wisdom makes patrons wait while they grill endless burgers for those who order them. I was beginning to see mirages appear on the concrete after about the third song (I could hear - I just couldn't see).
But then again, I couldn't see from our place along the side railing either, which was the only space we could find to stand. This place is huge -- much larger than the pretty and intimate photo they show on the website.
Enough of my whining. On to the show--------->
Mario is a very respectable guitarist and I was delighted to see (using the term loosely) him in person. The opening instrumental of the second set showed what a virtuoso he is. Vaguely familiar song, but not a GK song. Los Reyes perhaps?? He does lack the feeling and depth of Tonino, though.
Nicolas sounded great. Someone told me he stopped smoking and if that is the case, his voice has greatly improved from it. Patchai of course was the eternal showman, Pablo was the metronome and Andre sounded great. Canut seems to have been developing a new style and experimented with tremelos and flourishes on Montana and A Tu Vera - not necessarily for the best. Montana was the weirdest version I've ever heard, quite honestly. I thought his voice was faltering - or else he sounded like he was crying. If there was one, I missed the Pacheco solo that I always look forward to.
The song list was nothing special and nothing that hasn't been mentioned. I would have loved to hear Majioui or Viento again, or even a Fandango, but they stayed with their hits and sure winners.
At least they didn't play Volare!
unless, of course, they played it after we left..............................LP
The first and most obvious problem was Mario (did we determine definitively that he is Mario Regis, related to the Reyeses by marriage, and the one-time lead guitarist of Chico & the Gypsies?). Now, I will be the first to admit that he is very skilled in a technical sense. Not as skilled as Tonino, to be sure, but at least in the same solar system. He also fits into the group far better, personality-wise. He fooled around and looked to be having a great time, whereas Tonino always stood up there looking dour, bored, and sometimes pissed off (nevertheless while generating stunning guitar solos).
The other problem I had was the playlist. I believe the count was 9 songs I was glad they played out of 19 total. I have heard Baila Me, Canto A Brazil, and Djobi Djoba waaay too many times in concert. Even songs I really like, such as Bamboleo and Un Amor, are getting tired.
The last thing is that over the years, I think their sound (in concert) has gotten louder, simpler, and less interesting. Gone is most of the intricate guitar work, the elaborate harmonizing, and so forth. I think the overall quality of their concerts a few years ago was much better.
Good points: the second encore, an a capella version of "Caminando por la Calle", was great. Nicolas' voice was in fine form... he sounds as good as he did ten years ago. And I was really glad they played "Tristessa". Overall, I am glad I went, but I had to go home and listen to "Gipsy Kings Live" afterwards.
Ok, so the people behind us told us to sit down all the time (which we ignored). It was hot as hell... Literally... but it's Tucson... the desert. The sound quality could have been better. There was feedback and I think the sound guy was SOOOOOOOO wrong to go up and touch Mario's guitar (and to make matters worse, he did it in the middle of a song -- I'd be pissed too.) Canut looked plain tired, although I think he did an awesome job on his songs, despite sounding a little strained. (I KNOW what it is like to tour, to play songs over and over, to be tired and run down and to have to perform for people even when you feel *sh$#ty* ) I actually was intrigued by the dynamics of the GK's on stage. You can definitely tell when they are upset and definitely tell when they are enjoying themselves. I actually loved [most of] the play list. Music is supposed to inspire you or stir up the soul. whatever it does, it's supposed to bring out emotion. I was transported to some of the best memories I have with each of the different songs. my husband and I had a great time. We went home soaking wet with sweat, but we danced our asses off and it didn't matter what the rest of the crowd was doing... we were into it. And I have to say, their last song, "Caminando por la Calle" was so beautiful.
When they came back on the stage they all stilled looked very upset, but very determined not to let it ruin the night. They all turned the performance up a notch (not sound wise, but showmanship wise). The did the next three songs at that level but Mario's solos could barely be heard. Just a side note: The solo that I think Lauren mentioned that she looks forward to during Montana, actually happened, but he was so soft you could barely hear it. Throughout those three songs, ALL of them kept motioning to the sound guys to turn up Mario's guitar. Finally I guess they said F#@& it and all turned themselves up and decided to just have fun. At one point after that, I glanced over to the sound guys and they were just leaning on the board on their elbows with their faces in their hands. It was total defeat in their eyes.
It was so much fun to watch how they interact with each other, their crews, and everyone in the crowd. I thought it was pretty entertaining and despite the sound fiasco, I really enjoyed myself and the music.
Hope that sheds more light on it all. =]
FYI -- I did pick up the play list for Tucson, if anyone actually wants to know which songs they played. It says they were going to do Volare as the encore but ended up actually doing Baila Me. (I must say, I am glad... I'm not fond of Volare ... I didn't like it when Sinatra did it either, so it's nothing against the musicians. =] )
This is what is officially typed out on the play list: