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U.S. Tour '99

New York, New York
September 2, 1999

Theater at Madison Square Garden

AWESOME! And not just because it was the Gipsy Kings playing! The crowd last night was much more enthusiastic than Wednesday night, and the band really picked up on it. If Tonino was hot the night before, he was absolutely on fire last night!

I didn't know what to expect. Having heard pretty much the same playlist as in Raleigh (exception: the encore was La Quiero, but Wednesday night Volare) I was wondering how last night was going to be different. I was about to find out.

The show got started towards 8:30. Dominique came out onstage early (in his white jacket but without the fedora) and was fiddling around with the keyboards for awhile. When Georges, Pacheco, Negrito et al. came out, Georges did his wailing thing. The rest of the band came out and seemed to be more casually dressed than before. Nicolas had on a red guayabera-type shirt. Paul seemed to have on Nicolas' black shirt with the red and blue markings on the front. Canut was wearing a long-sleeved tan and white-striped shirt.

Then they stopped the wailing thing, tuned their guitars a little, then launched into...Pena Penita!!! Patchai sang lead, with Canut on backup. I absolutely could not believe it! Nobody has ever mentioned last year or this year that they played this. That alone was almost worth the price of admission. But the best was yet to come.

This was followed by Lleva Me Compas and Djobi Djoba. Tonino has been playing a new song after this, but last night he launched into.... GALAXIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And he absolutely scorched it. Oh Lord! I was in 77th heaven! I couldn't help myself and was yelling out the Oys! Patchai encouraged everyone to do it. That made the night right there. It didn't matter what else happened, the evening was complete.

The rest of the first set was the same, with the exception that instead of Poro Pompero as the final song (which I really like) they played Bem Bem Maria.

The intermission seemed to last a really long time. Before the show started and during the intermission I had been looking for a gypsy named Carlos, whom I had met last year and had helped to get signatures on a Manitas de Plata vinyl album I've had for almost 30 years. Another person I had met last year, a young French man named Antoinne, who had gotten his guitar signed by the band, had e-mailed me several months ago and asked me that if I saw Carlos would I give him his address and have Carlos write him a letter. Last year Carlos had worn a black outfit with a lot of silver jewelry pinned on a black cap. I had looked for him the previous night and hadn't seen him. Towards the end of the intermission, in about the third row, I saw a stocky person wearing a flowery satin shirt and a beautiful (some might say gaudy) sombrero with a lot of silver on it. I knew this was Carlos. So I ran down to him and gave him the address. He remembered me from last year. Got a picture of him later on. He must have been wearing at least 10 pounds of large silver bracelets!

Well, the second set was a little disappointing because they skipped Inspiration and started with Quiero Libertad. The rest of the playlist was the same. Tonino was smoking on Recuerdo Apasionado and played a very extended version of it. That boy can play. He also played the James Bond theme at the beginning of A Tu Vera. Negrito's and Pacheco's solos during A Tu Vera were inspirational. Canut was so inspired he was calling out the "Hola que sabe" himself. The crowd had been on its feet since before Recuerdo Apasionado and by the time Bamboleo rolled around the entire theater was a seething dancing mass of humanity. During Volare everyone was singing along so loudly you could hardly hear the band. I thought we might get a second encore (hopefully Poro Pompero) but Nicolas finished it off with "MuchÝsimas gracias, y muy buenas noches. Les queremos."

We stuck around after the show, and did get backstage, but we didn't get the signatures on Sarah's shirt that we had missed the night before. In fact, the only band member we saw was Patchai. Also saw Titi, who apparently is being a kind of roadie on this tour.

Pascal had apparently rushed everybody out to the vans because they were flying to Baltimore last night. So that may have been why they cut the second set short.

All in all, a great show, and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. So for those of you lucky enough to be able to go to both shows in one city, all I can say is "Do it!"


Derek and Carlos

(left to right) Patchai, Olga, Derek and Bil

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