Marco Antonio Solis Toyota Center August 10, 2014
Hailing from the beautiful Mexican state of Michoácan, Marco Antonio Solis is the epitome of a Latino superstar. He is suave, romantic, talented and charming, equally comfortable singing a ranchera as he is a love ballad, dancing to a cumbia or swaying along with bachata. He creates his compositions, writes his own songs, and plays his guitar and timbales masterfully. Solis is a natural performer, and exhibits attributes that he was seemingly born with, not learned or faked. In short, he is what Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias wish they could be.
On a sweltering summer night in the City of Houston, Solis began his show about ten minutes past 8 p.m. Sunday, allowing his large band and orchestra to introduce him with a medley of his past and current hits. A white backdrop showcased video of past performances and music videos, leading into the first song, "No Puedo Olvidarla (I Can't Forget Her)." The crowd cheered loudly and illuminated the arena with a sea of cell-phone cameras.
A quartet of beautiful female costumed dancers made their first of several appearances during the intro, stopping occasionally to flirt and dance with Solis, making him look a bit like a Mexican Hugh Hefner. Their choreographed steps were not overly complicated, but certainly exciting, fun, and very sensual. These weren't hip-hop dancers dressed in sweats and sports bras either; these chicas wore samba outfits, sexy cowgirl chaps, and even Aztec warrior-princess costumes, all while dancing in heels and looking like flawless supermodels. Just goes to show that Solis cares about his male audience members just as much as his female fans.
Solis took time to recognize his fans from all over Latin America, from the variety of Mexican states to Central and South America. Indeed, he has proven to be one of the most influential singer-songwriters and composers of musica latina in the last 30 years, first with his band Los Bukis, and then as a solo performer. During the performance of the bachata version of "El Perdedor" with Enrique Iglesias (via the video screen), I imagined how awesome a co-headlining concert with Juan Luis Guerra would be. Both men are supremely talented, and bearded Latino romanticos.
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During his career, Solis has performed in Houston on several occasions. He took time to recognize a few Houston landmarks from the past, such as the Panamerica Ballroom and Los Globos, as well as Memo Villarreal of Discotecas Memo's Records and Tapes. "Does Doneraki's still exist?" he asked. (The original location on Fulton has closed, but two other locations of the popular Mexican restaurant are still in operation.)
He also took time to "spit game" to the gentlemen in the crowd. He preached about love and lust, and how late-night texts from an ex-lover will keep you up at night, and how to deal with the situation (take a cold shower ASAP). He suggested to the women in the audience to look past the money and looks, reminding them there are quite a few honest and honorable men out there. "Whatever happens, respect every decision, as it will affect your whole life and destiny," he told us in Spanish.
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Old favorites such as "Y Ahora Te Vas", "Tu Carcel", and "Morenita" made way for tracks from Solis' newest album, Gracias Por Estar Aqui. The lead single "Tres Semanas" is formed in his classic style: soft, strong and sensual. He ended with a superbly exiting version of "Mas Que Tu Amigo" and the heartbreaker "Si No Te Hubieras Ido."
I walked out of there holding back tears. Eight years ago, I bought my parents tickets to a Marco Antonio Solis show. It was one of the happiest I've ever seen my mother. She passed away a year later. I'm not a very emotional dude, but this music is more than just entertainment. It is a direct link to her. The most beautiful memory ever. Gracias, tocayo.
Personal Bias: My dad swears that I was not named after "El Buki Mayor," but considering that he was my mom's favorite singer of all time, I assume he had a small influence as my namesake.
The Crowd: Sadly, most of the crowd watched the show through the screen of their cell phones. They were well-dressed and mostly respectful, and sung along at all the right times.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Aqui, van a llorar" (This is where everyone will cry). -- My amiga Vanessa, at the start of "Quiereme"
Random Notebook Dump: There was a gentlemen sitting in my section who looked like Marco Antonio Solis' uncle: long hair, beard, mischievous smile. People actually stopped him in the aisle to take photos! It was hilarious and awesome.
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston Music scene. You can follow his adventures on Instagram: @MarcoFromHouston.
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