In his life, Pablo Milanés has given many concerts in Cuba, but probably none as exciting and heartfelt as the one he gave at the main sports center in Havana on Tuesday. Pablo hadn’t sung in his country for almost three years and he couldn’t take it anymore. i needed it And the same happened with the Cuban public, who admire him as an artist and love him for the special person he is, reflected in his love songs and also in the most critical lyrics about today’s Cuban reality. At 79, Pablo is still Pablito in Cuba and his voice is listened to with devotion. The strength of this connection was clear from the moment he appeared on stage, and also that it was going to be a magical night, despite the political controversy that surrounded his presentation in Havana from the moment it was announced, and through no fault of his own.
Pablo Milanés chose Marginalfrom your hard drive origin (1994) to introduce the two-hour concert and 25 songs that thrilled thousands of people who gathered at the Ciudad Deportiva Coliseum. It was a policy statement full of message and subtlety: “Everyone come to my garden / touch and remove the flowers as you wish / kiss the near lips with tenderness / shed a tear for each of us / how misunderstood he is…” . Poetry and commitment from the outset, and the stands erupted in an ovation that continued throughout the evening as the troubadour revisited the great achievements of his career Beginning and end of a green morning, Do you see, Yolanda, It was’nt easy either The short space you’re not insung by the crowd.
Pablo did not limit himself to his most famous and universal repertoire. In an intimate format, accompanied only by the pianist and composer Miguel Núñez, who has been collaborating with him for more than 30 years, and the cellist Caridad Varona – and playing the guitar himself in some songs – Milanés has put together a very heartfelt concert , nostalgic , beautiful and balanced with a jeweler’s weight. Shortly after takeoff, after declaring his admiration and love for the Cuban audience—“best of all,” he said—Pablo sang his reflection The Evil of Silence (“The silence no longer understands / what is good and what is bad / it only says yes, signs / and obeys what they command) and later came other of his most crass compositions about what has happened in Cuba in recent decades, like e.g Exodus, who exclaims in his opening verses, “Where are the friends I had yesterday? / What happened to you? / What happened? / Where did you go? / How sad I am…” and that was one of the songs that had people going in a trance and applauding until they went insane.
The same happened when he sang The Original Sin (“Two souls, two bodies / Two men who love each other / They will be expelled from paradise / That they had to live…”), and with two songs that Pablo said were very important to him when he wrote them imagined nostalgia Y the glory days (“The days of glory / They went with everything / What I used to be”). Pablo Milanés’ critical positions are well known, but it was by no means a political or denunciatory concert, although some official authorities feared that this might be the case.
Pablo sang his undying love songs, the usual ones, and among them he included his most engaged lyrics, those that point out the stains and are thought-provoking, in a balance that flowed with the absolute complicity of a highly connected and engaged audience that had long had waited for you.
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That was announced during his tour bright days -which he is currently performing in Spain and which has also taken him to the United States- the artist would be performing in Havana on June 21, great expectations were raised. Milanés has been living in Spain for years and has health problems that are well known to all, and east Concert was a kind of gift he wanted to give to his audience and to himself as well, and so people understood it immediately. It was originally intended to be performed at the National Theater in Havana, with a capacity of around 2,000 people, but ticket sales were chaotic. The agency’s management decided that only a few hundred locations would be sent out at the window and the rest would be distributed “through agencies” and state institutions. Due to popular protests, the concert was moved to the sports city with 15,000 seats.
The reason for the restriction on ticket sales was never explained, but it gave the background to what happened during a recent presentation by musician Carlos Varela as part of the Havana World Music Festival, when part of the audience at the end shouted, “Freedom, freedom!” in the interpretation of Varela’s most critical songs. It has been denounced from social networks that what happened to Pablo’s show was a maneuver by the authorities to prevent something like this from happening again during the concert, when Milanés sang his most questionable songs.
With this sea in the background and with not a few nerves of the organizing institutions and considerable security measures, Pablo Milanés took to the stage of the Ciudad Deportiva on Tuesday and, as always, delighted with his unique voice and his songs. This presentation was very important to him and to the people, and it showed. The political was not (or was) in the foreground at all, what was breathed was poetry and the audience’s absolute attachment to one of his most beloved artists. From the first to the last verse he was sung with, listened to, enjoyed and his lyrics enjoyed as if he were drinking a last glass of good wine. Pablito was there and he put his heart and soul into a concert that was much more than a concert and ended in a collective catharsis when the encore came. “Love me as I am, take me without fear / touch me with love, I’ll lose my cool / kiss me without grudges, treat me sweet / look at me please, I want to reach your soul,” he sang, and the bleachers collapsed. A great energy filled the room and Pablo seemed happy to say goodbye.