27 December 2007
Fito Páez gave a free year's end recital last night at the Flag Memorial. Fito, 43, is well-known in the Spanish-speaking music scene. He's also among the most recognizable Rosarinos in Argentina and the world, not nearly a universal figure like Ernesto Guevara, but trailing behind in the good company of Alberto Olmedo and Roberto Fontanarrosa... which arguably makes him (Fito) the most famous living Rosarino. For most old-time rock nacional fans he ranks only second to Charly García. Though Charly, now 56, has been slowly sinking into drug-induced incoherence for decades (while still bringing forth great music), Fito redid his juvenile persona as he was nearing his forties, and he's now such a respectable music/show businessman that you can actually go to a concert of his with your children and your parents.
That, incidentally, seems to be what many did last night. The Monumento was packed — 20,000 people covering the Courtyard's stairs, the Propylaeum, and even the back part (where you could see Fito via a couple of large projection screens).
I've been a fan since I was a teenager, and continued to be until my early 20s, when Fito started taking on a more lightweight style. Therefore I found myself a bit lost at the beginning of the concert, when he started singing his oldest songs (the ones I was too young to know when they first came out), and then again when he presented his latest CD. Then he moved into the more familiar 1990s hits and I could sing (scream) along with the rest.
I don't particularly like artists who move from their home town to seek fortune elsewhere and never come back, and everybody who's heard me speaking of Fito knows what I think. He's a superb composer and musician, and when he moved to Buenos Aires it was simply the only thing he could do if he wanted his career to advance. But he didn't return, and he doesn't come to Rosario except on very rare occasions, and then he says what singers always say on every stop of a gig — "this place is the best" — and sings the song he composed about Rosario, with a couple of local references that make the public roar with delight, and that's it. Well, Fito, if you love your birth town so much, why don't you move back? Rosario's larger and more alive and sophisticated today than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, and with modern communications and technology you could set up your own studio and label here, instead of in Buenos Aires, and nobody would notice the difference. And we could see you more often as well.
All in all, despite the above, it was a very good show, technically and emotionally. I hadn't heard Fito's songs in ages and last night I sang beautiful lyrics I didn't know I still remembered. Good for him — I felt like I was 20 again.
PS: I've uploaded a couple of short videos (Fito Páez en el Monumento, and again Fito Páez en el Monumento) to YouTube, so you can see a bit of what the concert was like.