Alejandro Sanz was selling out stadiums in Mexico when 10 terrorist bombs exploded this past March in Madrid. While watching the terrible images on television of hundreds killed and wounded, he recognized the backdrop: the houses of old friends, the station where he used to catch the fast train to Seville. "My soul was there," he says. Did the Spanish singer-songwriter consider ditching the Latin American leg of his No Es Lo Mismo (It's Not the Same) tour and head back home? The phone is silent as he ponders the question in his hotel room somewhere south of the U.S. border. "The best that all of us can do as individuals is to continue our work and work for peace," Sanz says. "I believe that no matter what the movement or feeling, music is a remedy for all that humans suffer."
Certainly the Grammy and Latin Grammy winner does not make music for cynics. His is a world where a well-turned phrase can elevate the soul and a catchy melody can transform a pop audience into a quasi-religious cult. Nor does he limit his vision to musical expression. On this tour jumbo screens surrounding the stage will offer a glimpse of the folks he has photographed from hotel windows around the world, and of the cartoon characters he has created to illustrate a series of little books detailing "who we are and who we should be."
Whatever Sanz brings to the stage, it's the audience that is the star. If you can get a ticket to his likely sold-out show, you'll see thousands of spellbound faithful mouthing elaborate, philosophy-tinged lyrics to lilting melodies until they forget whatever ails them. "Julio Iglesias always says, 'When Alejandro sings, the whole world sings along,'" Sanz laughs. "Whoever listens ends up writing the songs themselves. They fill in their own names. They fill in their own places. It gives you the opportunity to exercise your imagination." -- By Celeste Fraser Delgado
Alejandro Sanz performs at 8:00 p.m. at the American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd. Tickets range from $50 to $85. Call 786-777-1000.
Feel an expansive altrock wave reverberating through the city? Might be the effects of the 6th annual Argentinean Fest, which has drawn hordes to Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd.) since it debuted in 1999. Highlights this year are 3 key artists who illuminate the state of Argentine rock and cover a musical range stretching back to the '60s. The bill includes pioneer Litto Nebbia, whose emblematic song "La Balsa" sold a quarter-million copies in 1967, becoming the first Argentine rock hit. Sharing the stage: younger bands such as Los Piojos and Babasonicos (above), both of whom are enjoying unparalleled success lately. Los Piojos closed its 2003 tour with a stadium show before 70,000 people in Buenos Aires. Babasonicos is even more celebrated, collecting 6 prestigious Gardel Awards (similar to a Grammy) recently for the indie album Infame, which will hit the U.S. next month. "To come here in 1997 was basically tourism," says Babasonicos guitarist Mariano Roger about the band's first field trips, "and even when things haven't changed that much, we can now visualize a promising future." The fest runs from noon to midnight. Tickets cost $20. Call 305-358-9911. -- By Javier Andrade
Up from Down Under
Aussie guitarist shakes the states
What could an Australian blues band possibly wail about -- wombats who have wandered off, kangaroos who have kicked their ass? Seems there would be little to lament Down Under. But the blues is big in Australia and so is slide guitarist Jeff Lang, who learned to play as a teenager by picking up licks from his family's Eric Clapton and Ry Cooder albums. In 1991 Lang did the requisite stint with one of the country's most famous blues groups, Chain. He has moved on since then, forming and later dissolving his own band, and going solo as a troubadour whose influences include Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Blind Willie Johnson, and Richard Thompson. Lang brings his eclectic and literate repertoire to the Main Street Cafe (128 N. Krome Ave., Homestead) tonight at 8:00. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Brian Josephs will open the show. Tickets cost $15. Call 305-245-7575. -- By Nina Korman
If the sight and sound of young baritone vocalist Josh Groban leave you with a discomfiting déjà vu, you're not entirely off target. You've seen and heard this all before. Groban is Jim Nabors with curlier hair and sans the Southern drawl. A protégé of vanilla record producer-songwriter-arranger David Foster, for whom he toiled as a rehearsal singer, Groban now records on Foster's Warner Bros.-subsidized label and is fast becoming a multimedia monster. He has released 2 big-selling albums, enjoyed a number 1 hit, shared the stage with the likes of Celine Dion and Sting, played the Vatican and the Olympics, appeared on Ally McBeal and Oprah, and even taped his own popular PBS special. Can further stardom as the lead in a sitcom about a bumbling U.S. Marine be far behind? Groban unleashes his prodigious pipes tonight at 8:00 at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $55 and $75. Call 305-673-7300. -- By Nina Korman