HAVANA TIMES — I saw the announcement about composer and singer Fito Paez’s arrival with his band, and the reason why he wanted to perform his last concert on his Latin American tour in our beloved, marvelous city. I then heard the same thing on the news. Two days later, I walked past the Karl Marx Theater by chance, which is near my house, and I asked how much the tickets were.
The box office sales lady told me that there were only seats in the second balcony left. That surprised me. How could they have sold out so quickly? More so at a theater like this, with a capacity of 5000 people. Then, while I was still recovering from my surprise, the somewhat sleepy woman asked me in a bad mood: Do you want the tickets or not? I made a decision and bought them, thinking I’d been lucky after all.
I went to the show on Monday June 20th with a friend of mine, who always cheers me up, as I’m not an easy person to please, remembering the bad experience I had at the Rolling Stones concert, where it was so uncomfortable to watch the legendary English rockers, surrounded by bars and miles away, that it felt like some kind of punishment. However, another friend who joined us, who was going to try and get a ticket, bought hers in the back of the first floor for 2 CUC.
Once in the hen house, almost touching the ceiling, we sat waiting for the show to start. I began to cheer up a little, as the Argentinian rocker’s magic show kicked off charged with energy, inviting us to go back in time with Giros, which was now 30 years old. We were able to enjoy Taquicardia, 11 y 6, Yo vengo a ofrecer mi corazón, and Cable a tierra, with a few new songs thrown into the mix, particularly, Rock and Roll Revolución, which was dedicated to Charly Garcia.
We listened to the emblematic Al lado del camino, Mariposa tecnicolor, which according to Paez’s own words, he could still sing with his head held high. The pride of a musician who maintains his expressive force, his rock-tango tinged voice, who has touched us with his beautiful reflective, existential, irreverent songs, some dealing with pain and others with social injustice. He was the outlandish reflection of a generation, somebody ahead of us with his insight.
Carlos Varela, Pablo Milanes, the prodigious flutist Jose Luis Cortez (El Tosco) and singer Diana Fuentes, were all invited by the artist to perform alongside him on this musical journey. I loved the chemistry he had on stage with Diana Fuentes when they sang El amor después del amor. They are all his ground wire to Cuba, his second home.
When the show had ended, I felt like I hadn’t really captured all of its magnificence, way up there in the hen house, it was like being in an oven, and you couldn’t see anything in the photos I took with my mobile phone. Even though the sound and lighting equipment worked perfectly, it wasn’t the same thing as sitting further down in the theatre, nearer the artist.
Maybe if the concert had been held at the Fabrica de Arte, or at another more intimate venue, I might have been a bit happier to dance to Ciudad de pobre corazones, and to shout at the top of my lungs: In this fucking city…!
This morning, after I had breakfast and went out to run some errands, I found out from a neighbor – who knows a scalper – that he was selling tickets near the stage for 20 CUC. These people make a living by waiting in lines in the early morning hours outside the theater, days before a show. The theater sells a certain number of tickets to the regular scalpers, which depending on the artist coming to perform fix a maximum price. I remember that just before the Rolling Stones concert, a woman approached me and offered to sell me an access pass to sit in the invitation only area dedicated to artists for 30 CUC.
Of course, Fito Paez doesn’t know anything about this. Only those of us who live in this city know about these things. Nevertheless, I’d like to say: Thank you Fito Paez for coming and for being one of us, even if it was just for one night!