Marco Antonio Solís - US Airways Center - 9/19/2014

Marco Antonio Solís has been rocking his infamous long hair and a full beard since the '70s. People have always compared his looks to those of Jesus of Nazareth, but in our current era of memes, his image has made the artist one of the most viral and popular faces all across the Internet. While this boom of virtual presence comes from people getting a kick out of it, truth is, Solís is one of the most beloved and respected artists for generations.

On Friday night, US Airways Center welcomed Solís "El Buki" (as he is commonly known) to an almost full house. The 54-year old Mexican pop star follows Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga as one of the few acts whose popularity and demand can be sized for the grand sports and concert arena located in downtown Phoenix.

Wearing a shiny silver jacket and cowboy boots, Solís opened the concert on a nostalgic tone with the classic "Y Ahora Te Vas," which he made famous about three decades ago with his former group, Los Bukis.

"That was for all the old fans and for the romantic youth that doesn't let my songs die," exclaimed the artist with a big smile.

The audience was indeed, a blend of different generations. In the lobby of the arena, one could see first-generation immigrants as well as younger Chicanos coming together to sing along with the legend.

Solís has always been celebrated for his efforts to reconcile Mexico's popular music with classical music. On stage, he was joined by two sets of musicians. At the foreground was his immediate band that accompanies him worldwide wearing black, and on the background, there was a line of Californian violinists wearing white. There was no struggle for both bands to achieve harmony. Solís' universal melodies fit with both populist folklore and classical pedigree. Not to forget the reaction from the audience upon listening to a guitar rock solo of "Como fui a enamorarme de ti."

In the middle of the concert, with a waving Mexican flag on the visuals, Solís put on a cowboy hat to perform a couple of his Regional Mexican hits including "Morenita" and "La Venia Bendita." These brought, by far, the most ecstatic reactions from the audience.

If there was anything to spare were the four dancers that surrounded the artist. And it's not that they didn't do a good job dancing. They just cheapened the show through stereotyped outfits and choreographies - the kind you'd see every weekend on Sabado Gigante.

Or it might just be that Solís is a showman himself and doesn't need all the feathery distractions. The man played the guitar, danced across the stage, played a five-minute solo on the timbales, and turned out to be a great comedian also. He joked about age, jealousy, heels, and our relationships with new media.

"Nowadays you need the ice bucket challenge to step out it," said Solís, as if he was winking to the inevitable momentum memes have brought him.

As he concluded the night singing his most popular hits, power ballad "Si No Te Hubieras Ido" and the adored cumbia "Más Que Tu Amigo," the singer pleaded his audience with a stirring thought. "It's our responsibility to defend our own happiness," he said. Truly divine words from a man so many of us confused with Jesus when we were kids.

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Carlos Reyes
Contact: Carlos Reyes