The Drexler Effect
Superlative. If any of the privileged 707 people who arrived on Thursday to the Ateneo to see Jorge Drexler had high expectations, the Uruguayan musician took care to fill them with far over two hours of an intimate and unedited concert, which was made possible by Pandora Productions, the City of Knowledge Foundation and the Embassy of Uruguay.
Carlos Mendez, accompanied by his cousin Victor on guitar, was the perfect appetizer entree on the menu of the summer night. The Panamanian gave a tremendous display of talent in five acoustic songs that left people so satisfied that, without doubt, would have asked for another round.
After a fifteen-minute interval the moment everyone was waiting with great anxiety came. In the audience, some did a brief review of Drexler’s repertoire while others played to guess what he was going to play. Some, like the Panamanian songwriter Karla Lamboglia could not hide the emotion of the moment when she was going to have Jorge Drexler a few meters away.
The lights went out. Silence. An environmental sound started filling in the blanks making way to the sound of a guitar that could be heard but not seen. Out of nowhere, Drexler came on stage running and playing. Almost automatically, every person in the audience jumped up driven by the contagious euphoria of the tune ‘Hermana Duda’, which opened the repertoire.
After playing in San Jose, Costa Rica, last Wednesday, Drexler and his team landed in our country for the first time ever, to close the ‘Mundo Abismal’ tour. The audience responded with cheers and applause and stood up for the second time in just 10 minutes of concert. After playing ‘Eco’, Drexler, with a comfort worthy of someone who has played several times before the same audience, recounted how ‘Noctiluca’ was born, a song dedicated to his son, which was played next. If you closed your eyes you could imagine yourself having a conversation at the Uruguayan’s living room and not in a theater with 706 people. Such was the intimacy of the evening.
‘Inoportuna’, ‘Tres mil millones de latidos’, ‘Que el soneto nos tome por sorpresa’, which won the 2011 Goya Award for ‘Best Original Song’ and ‘Don de fluir’ continued the dynamic pace of the concert.
Uruguayan – Panamanian Fusion
One of the many high points of the show came when, sitting in the chair, laughing and in complicity with the audience, he acknowledged ‘to be in debt’ with Ruben Blades. So out of his trunk of songs he pulled out a version of ‘Pedro Navaja’, «which he hadn’t played since his college days in Uruguay.
The audience felt hypnotized and entranced by the spontaneity and joy that emanated from the musician, who repeatedly stressed how good it felt with a sincerity that was palpable.
After playing ‘Soledad’ and ‘A la sombra del Ceibal’, the artist gave himself another treat. He called Carlos and Victor Mendez and played ‘Ella también’, from the late Argentine musician Luis Alberto Spinetta, which they tested and armed during the sound check, but felt as if it had days of preparation. “What I heard from the set of Carlos Méndez was beautiful, congratulations”, the Uruguayan humbly acknowledged.
It kept getting better
The night continued to gain intensity. Drexler, an enemy of the barrier that separates the artist from the audience, talked and laughed with the people. He acknowledged petitions and thanked those present. “You do not know how nice it is to hear you from up here asking for my songs. Thank you” he confessed. “Thank you for coming, Jorge!” replied an excited fan.
‘Mi guitarra y vos’ ‘unleashed the ‘uuuhhhh’ in unison with the people, the joy of ‘Aquellos tiempos’ made them move their head from side to side, ‘La vida es más compleja de lo que parece’ and ‘Las transeúntes’ overflowed the sea with emotion. In less than an hour and a half, Drexler had played 15 songs, and still had more than enough room for more. Much more.
Pleased with the theater acoustics of the Ateneo and the existence of the City of Knowledge as cultural space he continued to play ‘Deseo’ and ‘Me haces bien’, the latter standing in the middle of the stage. The perfect sound spread to the fibers of each of the members of the audience who did not stop smiling at such a display of quality from the 47 year old musician.
As if announcing the end, the lyric and melody of the semi-rap style of ‘Disneyland’ preceded ‘Sea’, a song that ended the repertoire but not the concert. The people, standing again, joined forces crying ‘ooootra, ooootra!’ so that Drexler would jump on stage again. And he did.
The tender melody of ‘Salvapantallas’, inspired by his siblings, returned to release the massive choir and gave way to ‘Todo se transforma’, which ended a night of magic and music like never before seen in Panama. «It’s been a joy and a huge surprise. Thank you very much, » he said with a smile that never faded in the entire show.
“Such a shame it’s over” lamented a woman while walking to the exit. “At least I can finally say I saw Drexler after so many years of listening to him» said another. “I love him, I love him, I love him”, said another lady while her companion smiled. “My mood has changed. I want to grab a guitar and start playing» admitted a young man.
Each of the individuals who lined up since 6:00 p.m. retired with nothing to reclaim to the musician; who with his Spanish guitar, which seemed more like an extension of his body than an instrument, made a vast tour of his trajectory, and left several voices hoarse and red palms from hundreds of hands. The Drexler effect made a great effect.
Posted on Sunday, March 4, in the newspaper La Estrella de Panamá
Text by: Germán Bellini