Mana Brings Drama y Luz to the American Airlines Arena, May 11

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American Airlines Arena

Friday, May 11, 2012

Better Than: The Beatles and Beethoven?

Well, anyway, Maná put itself in the same league, dispensing with an opening act and instead having the pre-show DJ break into a set of mellow Latin alternative tracks that got the crowd cheering during an extended intro to ...

Not Maná, but the Fab Four's "Revolution."

Then the lights went out and a sheer, white scalloped curtain slowly unfurled above the front of the stage, illuminated by sky blue lights swirling to the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which segued into Maná's "Oye Mi Amor" ("Listen My Love").

The message was clear: get ready for a night of classics. There would be no surprises. There would be no disappointments. There would be a lot of singing along.

The American Airlines Arena had the air of a neighborhood block party. Even if everybody didn't actually know each other, they felt like they did. And they certainly knew the band.

Bass player Juan Calleros stood where he's been standing since he formed part of the original Maná band, Sombrero Verde (Green Hat) in 1978. He did not stray from his spot down stage right. He did not jump or prance. He rarely looked up from his instrument.

Over on the opposite side of the stage, Sergio Vallín was slightly more animated. Still sexy after all these years, his wispy hair escaped his mini-pony tail and framed his shy smile as he muscled through mini-solos on nearly every song, never taking up too much time or attention.

Between and behind them, drummer Alex González raged against the prison of his drum kit, taking even the briefest rest in the band's incessant rhythm as an opportunity to spin a drum stick, leap onto his stool, or twirl in the air before falling back, right on the beat.

Frontman Fher commanded center stage, though never making any sudden moves. Often, he waved his arms, conducting the crowd through chorus after chorus.

In the midst of this nostalgia fest, there were a few newly memorable moments. Like the digital gargoyles spitting fire at each other during "El Dragón." And of course, Alex's almost endless ten-minute drum solo, on a rotating platform that rises a level above the stage, which is a highlight of every show.

The most charming moment came in the quiet that followed, when Fher and Sergio popped up on a platform above the sound techs, at the opposite end of the arena. Confined to a ten-foot-by-ten-foot space, Fher sang a medley of his best-loved tunes to candlelight while Sergio strummed an acoustic guitar. Halfway through, Juanito and Alex climbed up too. All snug together, with the crowd singing heartily along, the illusion of arena rock faded and Maná became what they have always been, that band whose songs you sing in your living room with your best friends.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Maná may never get too worked up, but then they never get too loud. In an arena where the Miami Heat organization goes out of its way to split eardrums, Maná's relative calm may not be all that rock 'n' roll, but it sure is appreciated.

The Crowd: People who grew up listening to Maná, whether they were in high school in Mexico City when ¿Dónde Jugarán los Niños? broke out in 1992. Or they heard their parents playing Revolución de Amor ten years later at home in Buenos Aires, Bogotá, or Miami.

Overheard in the Crowd: Dad to his teenage sons "On tour for a year! That's insane!" Um, that was just the U.S. leg of the tour, Dad. How insane is two years?

Maná's Setlist:

-"Oye Mi Amor" ("Listen, My Love")

-"Déjame Entrar" ("Let Me In")

-"De Pies a Cabeza" ("From Head to Toe")

-"Lluvía al Corazón" ("Rain to the Heart")

-"El Dragón" ("The Dragon")

-"Vuele Libre Paloma" ("Fly Free Dove")

-"El Verdadero Amor Perdona" ("True Love Forgives")

-"Amor Clandestino" ("Clandestine Love")

-"Mariposa Traicionero" ("Butterly Traitor")

-"Manda Una Señal" ("Send a Signal")

-"Clavado en un Bar" ("Stuck in a Bar")

-"Latinoamérica" ("Latin America")

-"Me Vale" ("I Could Care Less")

-"Te Lloré Un Rio" ("I Cried You a River")

-"Se Me Olvidó Otra Vez" ("I Forgot Again")

-"Eres Mi Religion" ("You Are My Religion")

-"Bendita Tu Luz" ("Blessed Be Your Light")

-"Si No Te Hubieras Ido" ("If You Hadn't Gone")

-"Vivir Sin Aire" ("To Live Without Air")

-"El Muelle de San Blas" ("St. Blas Wharf")


-"Rayando el Sol" ("Scratching the Sun")

-"Corazón Espinado" ("Heart of Thorns")

-"Labios Compartidos" ("Shared Lips")

-- Celeste Fraser Delgado

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