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Miguel Bose @ Gallo Center for the Performing Arts, Modesto CA 04/20/17

Miguel Bose is an artist’s artist, with a celebrated history and a rich sounding baritone. Bose is practically a Euro-Latin treasure, with a career spanning four decades that began in television and ventured into music, while singing in Spanish and Italian. He’s known for his heart rendering folk anthems, tender ballads, exciting dance tracks and beloved pop hits.

The charismatic Bose NEVER tours near this area. To see big international acts, Central California music fans must travel 3 hours plus to cities like Oakland, San Francisco or Los Angeles. Low and behold, the opening date of the brief Estare Tour was occurring in Modesto at a gorgeous and intimate theater called the Gallo Center for the Arts. Like I had written previously about a Richard Marx show, The Gallo is a jewel of a theater 90 minutes north of Fresno and there’s not a bad seat in the house. This was a birthday treat for my lovely wife, and I clamored for those balcony box seats. Those seats provide a wonderfully close vantage point, and the big, comfy upholstered chairs add a charm and grace to the concert experience. We enjoyed our glasses of wine in comfort as the show unfolded.

Bose employed a large cast of musicians, with their names appearing on screen as they entered the stage, one by one, a classy and personal touch. The 11 person ensemble included several backing vocalists, primary keyboardist, a second keyboardist/violinist/accordion player, two guitarists, a bassist, a percussionist and a drummer. The musicians were in great form and the extra sidemen/women helped to recreate the songs authentically. Most people get hung up about live music not sounding like the studio originals, many complain that “it’s just not the same.” That’s true most of the time, however, I think a live group’s job is to channel the spirit of the music, perform an authentic rendition and connect with the audience. That’s what happened in Modesto this night. The group performed arrangements very similar to the studio originals with a couple exceptions. However, the sounds were updated, brought to the present. The live renditions went over well in an almost magical fashion. Tonight’s set was generous, spanning over 30 years of music including new offerings. Bose was dressed all in black, his hair cropped short with an equally sharp goatee. He was in playful form, moving about the stage regularly, joining in on the dance routines and occasionally taking a seat on a bar stool. Bose proved he wasn’t merely a polished studio vocalist but a true performer and he was relishing the crowd’s energy.

The playful “Y Poco Mas” had the crowd singing along and cheering as Bose snuck in some flirty dance moves, prompting a squeal from the ladies…Bose counted in the ‘One Two Three Four!’ and the audience joyously belted out the next chorus. The group led the audience on another stirring sing-along during “Nada Particular,” a swell of voices delicately lifting the song higher and higher. The entire show was one massive sing-along. The audience knew the songs by heart and never overpowered Bose or the backing vocalists. Instead, the audience lovingly complemented the performers, adding additional color and dynamics to the vocals. People loved these songs and did them justice with their respectful and gentle singing. During “Creo En Ti,” Bose appreciated the love and support, and had that charming grin as the audience joined in on the choruses, he nodded in approval as the accordion player continued her leads. The acoustics were wonderful, Bose’s vocals were clear and rich sounding, the Gallo was the perfect venue for this kind of anthemic pop, especially for gems like “Si Tu No Vuelves.” Like a gentle thunder, his voice filled the entire building, that subtle, natural echo disbursing his voice throughout the theater. “Si Tu No Vuelves” was performed in a similar manner to the duet version with Shakira. The instrumentation and sounds were very similar. For this rendition, Bose provided all the vocals with the group delicately accompanying him. The playful, island flavored “La Chula” once again saw the audience filling in wonderfully on the verses and choruses while shaking it. “Morir De Amor” continued the accordion flavored string of baladas, Bose once again leading the sing-along and playfully dancing to the tune and making the ladies scream. The delicate “Como Un Lobo” prompted more tender sing-alongs, with several fans in the front hanging onto each other and reaching out toward the performers. The tender “Te Amare” was like a choral exercise, Bose prompted the entire crowd to sing the choruses unaccompanied as he adoringly listened and conducted our performance. “Amante Bandido” got the audience to their feet, the bouncy anthem prompting a roar of cheers. The song was performed similar to the studio original but without the horns and with a straight ahead dance-rock beat. As a younger fan I identify more with the dance remix, but this rendition was perfect.

There were so many teary eyes in that theater. Midway through the set I had to leave my seat to use the restroom and grab a couple t-shirts for my love. On my way out I couldn’t help but examine the audience, many of whom were deeply touched and tearful, the stage lights reflecting off their glistened eyes. To our immediate left sat a woman likely in her 50s who had come to the concert alone. I couldn’t help but notice her sitting there, solitary and sentimental, chin propped on her hand as she watched. So many connections and so many feelings. Seeing the physical reactions to that kind of connection is stirring, a bitter-sweet kind of joy and happiness. I was so happy to be able to surprise my wife with this show for her birthday. For her and many many others, hearing and seeing the iconic Miguel Bose was nostalgic in a wonderful way, like reliving childhood memories, reconnecting with and experiencing echoes from the past. Experiencing all that with someone near and dear just makes the experience all the more memorable.

Songs performed this evening included Amo, Encanto, Libre Ya De Amores, El Hijo Del Capitán Trueno, Salamandra, Nena, Aire Soy, Horizonte De Las Estrellas, Sevilla, Y Poco Mas, Como Un Lobo, Si Tu No Vuelves, Tú Mi Salvación, Un Argumento, Partisano, Morena Mía, Nada particular, La Chula, Creo En Ti, Bambu ,Sí Se Puede, Que No Hay, Te amaré, Por ti, and Amante Bandido.

 

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Richard Marx @ The Gallo Center for the Performing Arts, Modesto CA 09/30/15

I can’t believe how great this show turned out. I surprised wifey with tickets to see one of her girlhood heartthrobs. If you were a child of the 90s (or an adult for that matter), you had to have been exposed at some point to the pop powerhouse that is Richard Marx. Pure sounding tenor voice with a lot of heart and just a bit of raspiness that made the chicks melt. Romance and sappiness aside, the man writes some amazing music and not just his own songs (he’s written hits for Luther Vandros, Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, Josh Groban, Martini McBride…and what? Nsync???). We had no idea what we were in for, not having followed Marx for a number of years and I did no research for this brief tour he had scheduled. Little did we know that we would witness a one man show, Marx alone on acoustic guitar for the majority of the concert while taking breaks to perform piano on a handful of songs. It was a gem of a show and one of the best concerts we’ve ever attended. He performed at the Gallo Center for the Performing Arts in Modesto of all places. It seems like a very random city and venue to book. Modesto is a modest sized ville of 200,000. It’s an hour south of Sacramento, hour and 15 east of San Francisco. And wow is The Gallo a classy place, suited for refined performances, symphonies and play productions, and it was the perfect venue to host such a unique concert. I had the good fortune of scoring balcony box seats closest to the stage, which gave us this amazing diagonal view of Marx at work. We sat comfortably in big upholstered chairs with generous space and leg room, the only things missing were glasses of wine and chocolate. It was a mature crowd for the most part, people in their 40s and 50s, sprinkled with fans in their late 20s and 30s. There were few denim jeans in the crowd, mostly slacks, khakis and dresses, making for a somewhat formal affair, classy, just like the artist.

Marx was talkative, witty, joked with the crowd, interacted with us, and told us not to sing along at one point because we’d just “fuck up the song” lol. Plenty of story-telling and insight into the song writing and performing as well. At the end of “Hazard,” a guy from the orchestra area said “who killed her?” Marx sheepishly grinned and shrugged his shoulders, finally saying “I killed her” once he sat back at the piano. He added that a bell hop in a hotel once asked him “hey man, so who killed that chick?” lol. It was an up close and personal performance, one man at the front of an unadorned stage with a piano behind him. He sounded GREAT, richer and more dynamic than what’s on record, and clam-free. Well not so clam-free; to prove he was truly human there were a couple mess ups on guitar but it didn’t matter, that’s just part of the wonder and authenticity of a live performance. He was having a good time and it was as if he was playing in his living room to a bunch of friends. It was THAT intimate and fun. Near the middle of the show he shared how he’d worked with numerous other artists and treated us to a piano version of “Dance With My Father” that really hit me deep. That’s the way to play it, piano only, with a great voice. Wow. Some other surprise performances included a rollicking version of Keith Urban’s co-written “Long Hot Summer,” Nsync’s “This I Promise You,” and teasers of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer,” Kenny Rogers’ “Crazy,” (did you know he co-wrote that?) and Maroon 5’s “Payphone.” Marx was awesome about “playing the songs you came to hear,” adding that you can only do so much of the new stuff, making a reference about his love for The Foo Fighters, explaining that a group like that can get away with playing so much new stuff so long as the favorites like Everlong and Times Like These are in there as well. Included was one or Marx’s original “Country” songs, a funny little tune called “How Can I Miss You (If You Won’t Go Away?).” There were some moments when we thought we would be let down by such stripped down arrangements. For example, Marx played the basic chords to “Hazard,” it was missing the distinctive keyboard hook. But the song still went over very well and convincingly, the same with “Angelia.” That song in particular was extra special. Marx said to the audience “ok for this next one we’re going to go truly unplugged,” and he pulled out his amp cord and walked up to the very front of the stage and played “Angelia” without a mic or his amplifier. You could hear a pin-drop in the theater, everyone shut up and just LISTENED. It was quieter of course without the amplification, but there was just enough natural volume and projection to still enjoy it. It was sweet. This was one of the best shows ever and very similar to Bryan Adams’ Bare Bones Tour, acoustic guitar and piano only, and a LOT of fun. The set was something like the following, most likely a bit out of order and maybe a couple incorrect songs.

  1. Endless Summer Nights
  2. Take This Heart
  3. Satisfied
  4. Keep Coming Back
  5. Hazard
  6. Not In Love
  7. Dance With My Father
  8. Long Hot Summer
  9. How Can I Miss You
  10. Angelia
  11. Hold On To The Nights
  12. Now And Forever
  13. The Way She Loves Me
  14. Should’ve Known Better
  15. Right Here Waiting
  16. When You Loved Me

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