Mesa Amphitheatre, June 2
Mesa Amphitheatre. No zoom lens, unfortunately, but the Gipsy Kings are onstage, shirtless, doing the sound check a couple of hours before the concert.
The following photos are courtesy of Rob Rivera:
Bob & Lauren enjoy the concert.
Lauren really enjoys the concert.
The Gipsy Kings on stage (notice the girl dancing):
LP says: Today's events began when we walked (2 min if you walk slowly) from the hotel to the perimeter of Mesa Amphitheatre and from where we sat on the grass with our friends Bill and Penny, we watched GK do their soundcheck. Sounded great from where we sat( high above the amphitheatre just outside the fence, hiding behind a privet).
BB says: Still too loud for this band. Many subtleties lost, IMHO. Did they borrow Aerosmith's sound system again?
Being close (front row) is a whole new experience. Made eye contact with Andre, Paul and Tonino early on.
For the record, the lineup was (house left to right, as you're looking at the stage) Paul, Andre, Nicolas, Tonino, Patchai, Georges and Canut. WHERE THE HELL WAS PACO??!!?? As President of the Paco fanclub, I must protest his absence. After all, aside from Nicolas and Tonino, he was the only one who was in ALL formations of the band. Until now. It seems he's been replaced by Georges, who does a good job.
One more thing, toward the end of the concert they were bringing girls up on stage to dance. Our friend Bill said that, after the encore Bamboleo), certain girls were being invited backstage. Shades of Van Halen or the Beach Boys. Hmmmm.
LP: Bill also noticed that as one girl was leaving the dressing room backstage she was stashing what he called "wads of cash." Hmmmm! Indeed.
The sound was indeed almost deafening and very distorted up front, particularly toward the end of the concert when the bouncers gave up on keeping the crowd at bay. A Tu Vera (which I was really hoping to hear) was so overwhelmingly loud, as was the crowd stomping and whistling that it was almost unbearable. My ears are still ringing. At one point during Bem Bem Maria, Patchai got down on one knee to play his guitar rock 'n' roll style and Canut did the little rock 'n' roll dance Karen spoke about. And, of course, there was the obligatory girl "dancing the dance of the 7 veils on too many Margueritas.Rob remembered her from last year as a girl who jumped up on stage until the bouncers gently removed her.
BB: I was going to mention that they played "Bem Bem Maria" and lots of older stuff they didn't play last year, including "Triste Pena" and "Oy". This delighted me. "Mosaique" kicked ass!!! I didn't hear any new music except "Todos, Todos, Todos Ole!".
LP: we're tired, it's late, sure we'll think of more tomorrow. Glad we get a day of rest before Vegas............
My first GK in concert - "WOW " doesn't begin to describe!
Bad news first - Canutians, there is no doubt - Canut wear a big old honkin' gold ring on THAT finger - we were front row directly in front of the ponytailed one.
Second bad news - as Bob and Lauren reported, the sound person was NOT of this planet. By the last half of the second set, distortion was total. I didn't even recognize Bem Bem Maria until the chorus. There were technical diffculties early on (Canut and Patchai each left the stage at least once to consult with one of the crew) - Canut looked frustrated in the first set, but was having a lot more fun in the second half. At one point, he had no microphone at all. It appeared as if they couldn't hear themselves very well. I also noticed Canut clearing his throat a few times, and not singing backup in places where he normally would - so he may have been having some voice problems as well (although it wasn't apparent when he sang lead).
One woman (the one Bill saw pocketing the cash) was invited on stage to dance, and danced beautifully - later several others invited themselves on stage, including a pair of twins who were next to me before wrangling an invitation to hop on stage. To those who aspire: it certainly seems to help if you're young, dark haired, and wearing tight clothing.
Although the sound was better farther back, being in the front row was a visual feast. Got a big thrill when I threw a kiss to Paul as they were leaving the stage before the encore, and he threw on back!!!!! Also made eye contact with Canut (difficult, he doesn't "play to the crowd"), Patchai and Georges (both big flirts!) and Tonino. Like Lauren says, I feel like a _____(fill in your age) groupie!" But what fun!!
For Las Vegas, Lauren & I have discussed getting some roses to throw on stage.
Also - the suggestion came up with we (GKML) should inundate MTV with requests for GK Unplugged. Now THAT would be a show!!!!!
Thanks again to LP and Rob for the awesome coordinated efforts to score the up-close-and-personal seats. On to Vegas!
Well, now that I've had a chance to rest up for a bit, I wanted to add my comments to Bob, Lauren and Nikki's, about the Mesa GK concert last Tuesday.
I won't say much about the music, the distortion that was quite noticeable, or the lineup of what by all appearances is the greatest gitano band of the century, though. The concert was phenomenal in every respect, as has already been reported. But I wanted to say a bit about the crowd that was there.
The Mesa Amphitheater generally doesn't have a reserved seating section, but they did for the Gipsy Kings concert (again) this year. Normally, the place is full of appreciative fans who don't mind sitting on the grass "picnic style" or as is more often the case, standing up as close to the stage as possible.
Well, with the Gipsy Kings concert this year, imagine about 30,000 people packed into every corner of the venue. Imagine a hot Phoenix night with a noticeably slight breeze, and imagine things starting just a little bit slow. Imagine then that as the beat and the tempo and the energy begin to grow, so does the crowd's enthusiasm. Then imagine this: after the first several songs, not very many people are able to keep off their feet at all.
As the band played on, the energy was contagious, palpable, and their smiles at the rows of people showed their own appreciation. The players were much more into their interaction with the crowd than last year, by all appearances. In fact, as the songs connected with the audience, the Kings poured it on, and towards the end, imagine that mass of 30,000 fans all up in unison, clapping, dancing, yelling, and generally creating a solid blob of human protoplasm in total and complete appreciation of their music!
The final numbers, including the Bamboleo encore, produced the closest thing I've ever seen to singlemindedness in such a group of people ever, and on looking back at the crowd from my front row seat, I was in awe of the raw emotional outpouring and excitement of the huge number of people there. No kidding, guys, it was phenomenal, and I'm sure each one of the Gipsy Kings must have truly felt like a KING, to be able to produce this type of response in the crowd. There must not have been a single person there who could sit back and say "naaaaah, not for me."
I recognized a number of people there who were also in the front rows last year, and saw yet again the infamous "margarita-disinhibited totally overstated dancing flamingo-ette" that was spinning wildly, arms a-flailing, waiting to become another casualty in the circle of life. I'm sure she has no idea that she's become such a topic on the internet, by the way... There were more flamenco wannabes in the aisles, on the chairs, between the stage and the front row of seats, hanging off the palm trees (not really), and on the sidewalks, than I have ever seen! The only place I didn't see any, where they didn't seem to find their way, was on the roof of the concession buildings.
I have seriously considered whether or not this was, in the final score, the greatest concert I've ever attended when it comes to the way the crowd's energy and the Gipsy Kings "playing" of it, come to bear. I've only got kindest thanks, yet again, to the energy spent by Bob and Lauren and Nikki to score on such wonderful seats for there and Las Vegas. Hard Rock, here we come!