After spending a languid afternoon in the company of Mademoiselle MG during one of the warmest days I can remember ever hitting San Francisco, she and I had a great meal at Il Cane Rosso at the Ferry Building and then took the ferry from SF to Oakland to go see Paulina Rubio.
What? You've never heard of Paulina Rubio? That's a damn shame because the Latin world's equivalent of Madonna just killed it before an adoring audience and the only reason you probably missed it is because of the way art, entertainment and culture are marketed and sold in this country. Paulina's been making records since 1992, has sold 20 million of them worldwide and the last three are delicious confections of solid pop that rival anything you've heard sung in English during the last decade. She made one cross-over recording in English, which yielded a minor hit and some MTV play, and then she smartly went back to her native language and guaranteed obscurity in the English-speaking parts of the U.S..
The lack of exposure for Latin pop music (or for that matter, any music not sung in English) in English-speaking media is something that grates on me, if for no other reason that it just seems so backwards. But I think I'll make that rant its own post.
Initially we were told Paulina's band was going to do a half hour set before she came out for a planned hour and a half. That never happened. The lights go down and La Chica Dorada hits the stage in a get-up that outdid Lady Gaga at the VH1 awards and the audience just freaked. It seems everyone had an IPhone and all of a sudden Pau was being filmed by everyone in the pit. I really wished I'd brought my camera.
Paulina is an incredibly generous performer. During the show, which lasted two hours, the stage was crashed twice by guys who somehow got past the bouncers and when the bouncers lept into action Pau waved them off, saying "it's okay." The second time it happened, she turned the song into a one-sided duet, letting the lucky man (whose bragging rights among his friends will now be legendary) embrace her as she sang the song directly to him. Then he got a kiss and a dismissal which he was reluctant to accept- he did have to be dragged off by the bouncers but I couldn't really blame him for not wanting to go. Paulina also pulled a couple of women from the audience, handed them live microphones and let them be her back-up singers during another song- and they did a really great job. I've never seen a Madonna concert, but I can't imagine her doing something like that.
I love Paulina. I really do. Paulina is freaking awesome. And she has the best legs on the entire planet. Seriously- she does. Even Mademoiselle MG thinks so. She wore a silver, glittery micro mini-dress and black short boots that showed them off.
Concentrating on material from her past five albums, Pau delivered a set that was high on energy and low on pretense. Her band was okay, but their role is really just to keep the hooks coming and that they did. She had two only back-up singers, a male and female (an improvement over the completely unnecessary trio of back-up singers from the last tour) who were fun, but I do wish Paulina would realize she is best when she's the only one onstage and just strip it down. The woman is that captivating a performer- anyone else onstage is just unnecessary though the woman back-up singer was hot in a Sheila E. cum Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Chicago" kind of way,
The highlights? Certainly "Ni Rosas ni Juguetes" and the encore "Causa y Efecto" from the new album, but really every song was delivered with a verve and enthusiasm that had the entire place jumping from start to finish. The only disappointment were songs that didn't make the set, notably "Ojala" and "Tu Y Yo." Regardless, it was a great performance and she had the audience eating out of her hand for the entire set.
Here's the set list for the two-hour long show, which I took off of the spinningplatters.com review (which also has a Spanish translation for those who are interested), which they took from the light board, though I'm not sure it's 100% accurate:
Algo De To
Ni Una Sola Palabra
Lo Hare Por Ti
Todo Mi Amor
Mas Que Amigos
Yo No Soy Esa Mujer
El Ultimo Adios
Dame Otro Tequila
Ni Rosas Ni Juguetes
Nada Puede Cambiarme
Melodia De Tu Alma
Medley: Sabor a Aiel, Enamorado, Mio
A Contra Luz
Don’t Say Goodbye
Causa y Efecto
Y Yo Sigo Aqui
Te Quise Tanto
The spinningplatters site also has some actual photos from the show- check them out.
Afterwards, Maria and I went next door to "The Den," part of the Fox revival, and danced to a jamming mix of funk and salsa among a crowd that was half from the show, half just out to have a good downtown Saturday night. "The Den" is a lot of fun. Then it was time to go back to SF- and so we did. And there your are.