“We are citizens of the world,” declared Fher Olvera, Maná’s lead singer. A thundering audience delivered a super-sized roar in return, as a sold-out crowd had come to see the first of Maná’s seven shows at the venue — one that featured the spectacle of a towering elephant, big white balloons and even the John Lennon-Yoko Ono classic “Imagine.”
The venerable Mexican band from Guadalajara, who formed in the ’80s, delivered an intimate performance despite the large crowd of more than 15,000 admirers. They drew closer to Olvera, drummer Alex González, guitarist Sergio Vallín and bassist Juan Calleros as the artists roamed freely up and down the “T” stage set-up to greet their die-hard fans.
Those face-to-face encounters upped the rapport between the foursome and their devotees who took pride in knowing every lyric, from pop to rock and ballads wrapped around the lessons of falling in love, breaking up, childhood traumas, the protection of earth, animals, humanity and all matters of the corazón.
These songs are anthems that fans of every race, culture, color and age have made their own as they’ve grown with Maná through the years. From “Me Vale” (I Don’t Care) to “Oye Mi Amor” (Hear My Love) to “Bendita Tu Luz” (Blessed Be Your Light), Maná’s magical touch shines brightest by staying close to roots.
Their charming songs are plentiful from a substantial portfolio of music that transcends and unifies fans everywhere, especially their Hispanic audience in the U.S. The frontman encouraged fans at the Forum to be peaceful, and to stay strong and not be afraid during these uncertain times. At one point he held a large white flag emblazoned with a colorful peace symbol, but that was only one of the many highlights from this stop on the Rayando El Sol Tour.
Elephant in the room: Was that an elephant entering the stage? Yes, and it was courtesy of the Amsterdam-based Airworks Inflatables, the team of creators who have worked with J Balvin, Katy Perry and P!nk, among others. The elephant’s introduction was very cool, but suddenly the storyline took a different direction and delved into a statement about earth, animals and humans. Breathtaking.
A Fher serenade: Besides the stage that extended into the middle of the venue, Olvera at one point took it to the back of the venue where he sang several songs. It was in that arc of the show that he chose a female from the audience. A starstruck fan from Guerrero wearing one of the band’s t-shirts emblazoned with the words “We are all dreamers” is given flowers by a kneeling Olvera, who serenaded her with “Mariposa Traicionera” (Treacherous Butterfly). They took selfies as she captured the entire once-in-a-lifetime Maná moment.
Guitar superstar: The multiple Grammy- and Latin Grammy-winning band made one fan’s dream come true. As part of a contest, one L.A. Maná lover not only got tickets to the show, but was given a sweet new Gibson guitar as the set ended. (The fan was understandably speechless.)
“Y” is for Yatra: Some hoped that Colombian Latin pop/urban singer/songwriter Sebastian Yatra would be a special guest at the Forum’s first show since Maná announced through social media that the crooner would join them during their run at the Forum on Sunday (Sept. 22). Yatra wasn’t present for the opening night at the venue, but the band’s management confirmed the upcoming weekend team-up. One has got to wonder if this is a hint at something bigger, like a new collab; then again, Yatra, who performed at the Latin Grammy Person of the Year Maná tribute in 2018, has stated many times that he has always been a huge Maná fan and that he’s obsessed with the classic “Me Vale.”
Touching tribute: Maná thanked their fans and Olvera gave a special shout-out in English to the “gringos” in attendance. Before they left, the foursome took the stage side-by-side and bowed in unison as white balloons fell and dotted the audience. In the background, the John Lennon-Yoko Ono song “Imagine” played as the band gave their goodbyes.
Cool beans: As fans left the venue and before they spilled into the parking lot, a team of people handed out bright packages of Isadora Original Refried (Mexican) Beans, which included a sticker: “available at Walmart.” The brightly colored pouches (with 5-star ratings on Amazon, btw) went fast. “Show your power,” Olvera said moments earlier during the show and what better way to make that point than by using the universality of beans as a symbol of unity, pride and a strong consumer base with a purchasing power in the billions. “Viva Mexico!,” one fan shouted as he lifted his free gift of beans into the sky before disappearing into the crowds.