Amid his 2023 tour El Amor 30 Años Después del Amor — which celebrates the 30-year anniversary of the seminal album El Amor Después del Amor — Fito Páez made a stop to headline Viña del Mar International Song Festival on Wednesday (Feb. 22).
The Argentine artist arrived on stage with buoyant energy and colors that brought instant cheer. He sported a lemon yellow coat, turtleneck and lime green scarf combo; his scruffy salt-and-pepper curls looked splendidly unruly, and wore red-tinted glasses to boot.
This was the fifth time the legendary composer rocked the stage at the Quinta Vergara amphitheater; the last time he performed at the festival was in 2014. This round, he was honored with two trophies, a Gaviota de Plata and a Gaviota de Oro.
The multi-Latin Grammy-winning artist performed nearly 90 minutes of all killer, no filler hits from Después del Amor and more like “Al Lado del Campo,” “Ciudad de Pobres Corazones,” and “Circo Beat.”
Above all, he testified why the celebrated Amor... became the best-selling album in the history of Argentine rock — it’s loaded with timeless hits. Although he had plenty of material to choose from, with close to 30 studio albums under his belt, all the songs from the iconic record were greatly received with fans singing along, and some even with tears.
On its fourth night, here are some highlights from the 64th annual installment of Viña del Mar.
His Candid Songwriting
He opened the show with the iconic “El Amor Después del Amor,” which made for a grand entrance that needed no elaborate dancers, no smoke effects, no pyrotechnics — just him and his band. His impeccable songwriting was centerfold, highlighting introspective themes about finding love after love (of course), nomadic lives, magic and rock ‘n’ roll. With over 15,000 attendees present, Fito created a kind of bond with the audience that felt intimate and always genuine.
His Piano-Playing Prowess
At any given moment when Páez pounded the keys to his grand piano, the energy instantly amplified. He demonstrated his piano-playing mastery with a force of character. Although he left many of the album’s songs intact, he did present riveting brass-powered arrangements to a handful of tunes with the help of his live band, which resulted in a livelier Viña. He gave a lot more shine to his main instrument on the piano ballad “Un Vestido y Un Amor,” which inspired a massive singalong.
Genuineness And Flamboyance
There’s a charming quality about his flamboyant swagger that draws us in. Whether he’s pounding away at the piano, strumming his Gibson guitar, or showcasing that rocker flair, his every move captured our attention. He has a unique demeanor that mixed with his genuineness creates a very beloved rock star that spans generations. Grandmothers, couples, and fellow Argentine newcomer Nicki Nicole were among the crowd.
“Lo que yo necesitaba en esa época cuando era joven y sin ningún tipo de norte, igual que ahora, era irse lejos para reconocer a otra realidad, a uno propio, hay que llegar ser, y en eso apareció esta canción,” he said before playing the stunning “Tumbas de la Gloria.” (“What I needed at that time when I was young and without any kind of direction, was to go far away to recognize another truth, and one’s self. That’s when this song appeared.”)
Long Live Latin Rock
Fito showcased heavier rock riffs on a mustard-colored Gibson guitar when performing “Ciudad de Pobres Corazones,” boasting his instrument versatility. With distorted strumming, he turned the night into a Latin rock affair. Yet, in the 60-minute mark of the show, Páez’s lead guitarist — who was clad in black leather pants and a slick blazer — took the spotlight for a riveting three-minute rock solo. Armed with frenetic fretwork and screeching riffs, the man impressed with every improvisational note, and the crowd loved it.
Towards the end of his solo, he kneeled to the floor, and raised his guitar high, thus resurrecting the glory days of hard rock for the current times.
For the first time in its more than six-decade history, the Viña del Mar International Song Festival is being livestreamed in the United States, exclusively on Billboard.com, Billboard’s YouTube channel, and via Twitter @Billboard. The six-day festival continues Christina Aguilera on Feb. 23; and ending with Camilo on Feb. 24. All headliners will perform at 8 p.m. ET.
Find the rest of the week’s schedule below:
Thursday, Feb. 23: Christina Aguilera
Friday, Feb. 24: Camilo