Maná Toyota Center July 2, 2011
It takes a special combination of hype and talent to sell out a concert, let alone two in a row. In recent memory, only two other artists have been booked to perform on consecutive nights at Toyota Center: Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.
Mexican Rock en Español band Maná accomplished the same achievement on Saturday night as they rocked, rolled, and serenaded the first of two capacity weekend crowds at the downtown arena.
Released earlier this year, Drama y Luz is the band's eighth studio album. The title translates into "Drama and light," a nearly perfect description of Maná's catalog, which is filled with equal parts guitar-fueled anthems and heart-melting love songs.
The band paid homage to The Beatles by playing "Revolution" through the loud speakers minutes before taking the stage and opening with "Lluvia al Corazón." Singing behind a translucent white curtain, lead singer Fher Olvera treated the crowd to his unique raspy yet smooth vocals, while drummer Alex "Animal" González kept the tempo. The classic hit "Oye Mi Amor" was presented soon afterwards, prompting the crowd to sing and dance along to the reggae-rock beat.
The mood slowed down as the lights were lowered and a large group of violins, violas, and cellos joined the band to perform "El Espejo" and "Sor Maria," both from the new album. Actors dressed as Franciscan monks snaked their way through the crowd and onto the stage, burning incense and chanting along the way.
A clearly emotional Fher then dedicated the song "Vuela Libre Paloma" to his mother, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer. "Paloma" means "dove" in Spanish, and the stage was flanked with two large wings.
The drum set was then moved to the middle of the stage with the help of a hydraulic lift. González proceeded to produce the mother of all drum solos, and the faster he drummed, the higher and faster the platform moved. Then, like a true rock star, he reached into one of his snare drums, pulled out a cold beer, and chugged it. Salud, Alex!
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The rest of the band made their way to the other end of the arena, where a smaller stage was erected. Fher and his guitarist Sergio led the crowd in singing the popular cantina song "Se Me Olvido Otra Ves," written by the prolific Mexican composer/songwriter Juan Gabriel. For the next ballad, a beautiful young lady named Selena, from Matamoros, was chosen to be Fher's object of affection for "Vivir Sin Aire." Maná closed this mini-love set with Marco Antonio Solis "Si No Te Hubieras Ido."
After returning to the main stage, Fher changed into a Mexico soccer jersey and reminded the crowd of the U.S. team's recent 4-2 loss to "El Tri" in the Gold Cup Final. He then began to wave a large Mexican flag, thanking everyone for the support throughout the years.
"Clavado En Un Bar" continued the energy as he ran across the stage with the microphone and pleaded the crowd to yell and sing as loud as possible, saying, "Gracias a todos, son de puta madre!"
Don't you just love how saying "thank you" in Spanish can be done with insults and swear words? The night ended with "Labios Compartidos" and "En El Muelle De San Blas."
¡Viva Mexico, cabrónes! ¡Viva Latino America! ¡Viva Maná!
Personal Bias: Soy Mexicano, y que?
The Crowd: Brown & beautiful.
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Overheard In the Crowd: Every single lyric of every song.
Random Notebook Dump: I saw Maná for the first time in 1999 when they co-headlined two shows in The Woodlands with Carlos Santana. Ozomatli was the opener; talk about the best concert lineup ever!