Juanes at Bayou Music Center, 6/8/2013
Unplugged: to perform with acoustic rather than electronically amplified instruments. That is what Juanes' current tour is supposed to be. And when you think about it, taking a guitar player's axe away should severely diminish his or her effectiveness.
But Juanes is not your ordinary guitar player. This Colombian rock star has enough talent, charisma and energy to power and carry any stage he sets foot upon, seemingly with his heart alone. Plus it helps that he is, as one of my Twitter followers puts it, a "drop-dead sexy beast of a man."
Indeed, his current show may have been unplugged, but the energy at Bayou Music Center Saturday night was as strong and loud as I've ever experienced at a Rock En Español show. In fact, I would argue that this concert was more enjoyable than his show at Toyota Center two years ago. That show seemed like just another tour stop. Saturday night was magical.
The crowd applauded as his ten-piece band and two backup singers took the dimly lit stage, then absolutely roared when the main attraction appeared, guitar in hand. Appropriately, the show began with the title track from Juanes' 2002 debut Fijate Bien. Right away, the band provided the crowd with lively soundtrack that kept them on their feet dancing and singing for most of the show.
"Arriba Houston!" shouted Juanes, as he dove right into "La Paga." There wasn't much banter or pauses between each selection, which was a pleasant surprise. The transitions were fluid, like a mixtape created by a talented DJ, only live. He then hit us with an inspired cover of Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved." Not everyone can get away with covering Mr. Marley, but Juanes definitely has the heart and love to do Bob justice.
Soon after followed "La Camisa Negra," which was one of my mom's favorite songs due to its humorous use of metaphors and wordplay ("Lo que ayer me supo a gloria, hoy me sabe a pura... Miercoles por la tarde..."). Juanes' wit, humor, and carefully chosen words has always been a strong point for the singer-songwriter.