It's a raucous party at AmericanAirlines Arena, even with nostalgia & tears.
For all its danceability and party ambience, Carlos Vives' brand of folk/rock/pop is impregnated with melancholia. It's no accident that Gabriel García Márquez and his magical realism and Vives and his vallenato all hail from Colombia's Atlantic coast, a place full of legends, myths, traditions, parties, excess and a blend of cultures and intoxicating music.
On Sunday, in his last U.S. concert of 2014 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami -- his second home -- Vives brought all those elements together in an evening that had both exhilaration and tears. It was more than a concert; it was a love letter to Colombia.
Accompanied by his 10-piece band of 21 years, La Provincia (whose members include gaita player Mayte, accordion virtuoso Egidio Cuadrado and electric guitarist/producer Andres Castro), Vives played many of his top hits spanning nearly three decades to a sold-out house (over 10,000). That included many friends, among them Grammy-nominated Colombian folk/rap trio ChocQuibTown, who guested on two tracks.
But arguably the highlight of the evening was when Vives invited a 4-year-old fan who is receiving cancer treatment onstage to sing his comeback hit, "Volví a Nacer" (I was born again) with him.
Displaying the aplomb of a seasoned veteran, little Salma belted the song along with her idol, unfazed by the roaring crowd and by the tears.
It was no wonder then that Vives waxed poetic more than once, reminiscing about life, soccer and the very regional music he put on the international map.
"Today, Colombian music plays everywhere, and I feel so very proud," he said, as images of dozens of Colombian artists were shown on one of the four giant screens that served as the only props on the stage. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, this time around Vives performed with a troupe of dancers. But truth is, he needed little more than his seemingly inexaustable supply of energy and the music to keep the crowd on its feet -- from the VIP floor to the rafters -- for the entirety of the two-hour-plus show.
With a set list that included old hits like "Fruta Fresca," a killer song that had audiences up and dancing in their seats, and new hits his like "Como le gusta a su cuerpo" and "El Mar de Sus Ojos" (with ChocQuibTown), Vives was able to bridge past and present by virtue of repertoire and attitude. His music, including big new hits like "Bailar Contigo," remains that blend of vallenato strains with a pop commercial feel and a rock foundation that catapulted him to popularity 20 years ago and, amazingly, still sounds fresh. His staging has evolved; aside from the dancers, the show started with Vives coming out of a giant beating heart that was lowered onto the stage, a nod to the tour's title: Más + Corazón Profundo Tour, so named after his Latin Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated album. The set, in turn, is the follow-up to last year's Corazón Profundo tour and album after a 10-year hiatus. Both tours have been presented by SBS Entertainment.
In this second round, Vives still manages to appear as delighted and thankful and has no qualms about wearing his heart on his sleeve and pouring out his emotions onstage.
Fans, in turn, continue to welcome him back, like a long-lost friend.