Alejandro Fernandez Toyota Center November 30, 2013
Alejandro Fernandez has had a long and varied career, moving from singing rancheras like his famous dad to singing lush ballads to singing Spanish pop to singing -- gasp! -- in English to becoming a sort of Mexican music Everyman. It was that Everyman who showed up to the Toyota Center on Saturday night. During his two and a half-hour show (no opening act), Fernandez morphed from a Rat Pack-cool crooner to Unplugged star to a mariachi singer in full regalia: uber-tight pants, big hat, the works.
Touring in support of his latest release, Confidencias, Fernandez performed three segments. The first was his Las Vegas show, the second his (almost) acoustic set and third his mariachi roundup. He sprinkled old favorites -- "Tantia Pena" and "Como Quien Pierde un Estrella"-- in with cuts from Confidencias such as "Hoy Tengo Ganas de Ti" and "Me Olvide de Vivir." (On the CD, the first is a sexy duet with Christina Aguilera and the second a melancholy tune he performs with his dad, Vicente Fernandez.)
Two things were striking about his performance: he's got some great arrangements and his voice seemed to get stronger as the night went on. With a 12-piece band on-stage (and I suspect a few backing tracks), Fernandez managed to keep from being overwhelmed, if not by the musicians' talents then by the sheer amount of sound they produced. The arrangements supported his performance so the musicians never took center stage. Fernandez has an easy grace onstage, clearly enjoying performing.
If there are any weak points in the show, they're all visual (his performance was flawless). First, his backup singers badly need a choreographer, new costumes and maybe a vocal coach. Their routines resembled discarded moves from the old Motown girl groups, their outfits were distracting and Fernandez sounded better when they weren't onstage. Even as eye candy, they added nothing to the show.
Second, the background videos playing on a giant screen behind the stage seemed to be random clips from his music videos at best and a grab bag of stock video at the worst. (Note to video producer: Day of the Dead scenes aren't always appropriate to all Mexican shows everywhere.) Third, the set was a bit random. Big curtains of white material, flying white fabric lampshades, it never once made visual sense.
And finally, the light board operator kept leaving Fernandez in the dark mid-bow. Let the guy take his bow, why don't you?
Review continues on the next page.
Personal Bias: I'm a sucker for pretty boys. Add to that, this particular pretty boy can sing his ass off as a balladeer and as a mariachi, and I'm sold.
The Crowd: Drunk. And loud. They roared their approval at the opening bars of every hit, but missed quite a bit during Fernandez's almost-acoustic set because they continued to scream "Alejandro, Alex! Alejandro!" through the entire show. Here's a hint to all those screaming fans: He can't hear you. It's the Toyota Center, you're sitting in row ZZZ, damn near in the lobby and oh yeah, he's wearing an earpiece. Poor guy's lucky if he can hear his band, much less your individual voice.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Don't even mention Iglesias!"
Random Notebook Dump: How the hell do they run in in five inch heels? Every time an usher working the floor would start to clear aisle A of camera phone-wielding fans, the women in aisle B would run up to the front to snap pictures. When the usher turned to clear aisle B, the women in aisle A would run up. It was like tag-team wrestling with camera phones, big titties and no time limits.
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