August 1, 2021

foreign artists on the island

In Cuba we carry music in our veins. So much so that walking the streets of the island becomes a rhythm festival. The same thing you hear a mix between songs by Marc Anthony or Polo Montañés coming out of the balconies of a building than to any Cuban reggaeton player in those so loved by some and hated by others “traveling speakers”, which have been a fashion in Cuba for a while .

If in Cuba you say “there is a concert by …”, rest assured that there you will find a “molotera” of Cubans willing not to miss the partyWhether it’s Silvio Rodríguez, Gente de Zona or the Van Van group itself. What if it is about musical exponents from other latitudes? You just have to remember the massive concerts in Cuba that we are talking about today to show that kind of melomania that seems to characterize the Cuban!

10 massive concerts in Cuba

1. Audioslave

On May 6, 2005, the American rock band, Audioslave, offered a concert at the Anti-imperialist Tribune in Havana. It was the first time that an American metal group played on Cuban soil. And although it was not a Nueva Trova concert or any danceable popular music group, the performance managed to gather 70 thousand spectators.

The meeting between those present and the band’s musical proposal resulted in quite emotional moments when listening to songs like “Like a Stone” and in more vibrant ones with “Set It Off” or “Gasoline”.

2. Air Supply

Thursday night, July 7, 2005 more than 100 thousand people gathered, once again in the Anti-imperialist Tribune, and despite the eventual rains caused by the passage of Hurricane Dennis through the eastern part of the country, to enjoy one of the rock myths of the 80s: Air Supply, the duo made up of the English Graham Russell and Australian Russell Hitchcock.

Within the massive, not intimidated by the weather conditions, chorus voices were heard humming algunos de sus hits antológicos de los años 80 como “Every Woman in The World», «Even the nights are better», «Sweet Dreams», «Goodbye», «Miracles»o «Lost in love».

Food combo for Cuba

3. Peace without Borders

An intense sun beat down that afternoon of September 20, 2009, but there we were, more than one million one hundred fifty thousand Cubans, to experience first-hand an unprecedented concert in Cuba: Peace without Borders. That number of spectators today is easy to write, but at the time this concert was considered the third largest in history.

Those of us who had the opportunity to go enjoyed a musical encounter of more than five hours with artists of the stature of Juanes, Olga Tañón, Víctor Manuel, Miguel Bosé, among other foreign exponents, and an excellent representation of Cuban singers such as Los Van Van, Silvio Rodríguez, Orishas, ​​X Alfonso and Carlos Varela. This great mix of musical styles made this island sound on the international scene for a long time.

4. Kool and the Gang

If yours was the disco and funk music from the 80sYou were probably one of the first to arrive on December 20, 2009 at the capital’s stage of the Antimperialist Tribune, possibly with some of those posters that said “Kool, we love you” or “Kool, I’ve been thirty years loving u guys , All the time !, to enjoy this legendary American band.

The weather, slightly cold that day, did not prevent some 250,000 people gathered there. Most of them were over 40, who went back to their younger years listening to icons of soul, funk and disco like “Celebration”, “Let’s Go Dancin ‘(Ooh La, La, La)”,Ladies Night”, “Cherish” y “Joanna”.

5. Calle 13

The Puerto Rican group, great exponents of the urban genre, Havana’s Malecón burst on March 23, 2010 with pure hubbub and to the rhythm of songs like No-one like you, Dare-te-te o la Boring cumbia.

The sun burned us, there was little space, about 200,000 people, a certain problem with the quality of the audio … but none of that made it impossible for us to sing, jump, dance as if we were possessed. It couldn’t be otherwise, that’s the Calle 13 stamp!

6. Sugar

At this point, one must be clear: Cubans do not discriminate in musical styles, with music we literally follow the well-known phrase “whatever they give you, take it”. Therefore, it is not surprising that Zucchero, despite not being as well known on the island as his countrymen Laura Pausini or Eros Ramazzotti, was received by more than 70 thousand people.

The representative of Italian pop rock appeared in the park of the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) on the occasion of the launch of his latest album: The Cuban session. If you were not a witness, you can imagine that en the concert cubanía was breathed everywhere, from the scenography to that mixture of Cuban sounds that merged with the artist’s own musical stamp.

Punta Cana

7. Major Lazer

And on March 6, 2016 we went back to live another of the massive concerts in Cuba. This time those in charge of the musical milestone were Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire, the DJs of the world-renowned Major Lazer. Almost half a million people they flocked to the José Martí Tribune, in front of the Malecón in Havana, to be part of this very famous show where the musicians combined Caribbean and Latin rhythms, such as reggae or reggaeton, with others such as dubstep and house.

The result? That all the young people left at the end of the day with the experience and memory of a vibrant and intense concert, which reached its peak when the hits “Lean On” sounded YWhere Are Ü Now”.

8. The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood, the “satanic majesties” of the legendary British band Rolling Stones, gave us the rockiest night in the history of Cuba that March 25, 2016.

18 hours before the start of the long-awaited concert, the arena of the Sports City welcomed thousands and thousands of Cubans of all generations and from all parts of the island. That event was a fever, anywhere in the city you could hear about the Rolling. It is not surprising, therefore, that the most modest figures speak to us of around half a million attendees to the iconic event.

Those of my parents’ generation remembered that time when rock, for being rebellious and irreverent, was banned in Cuba. Those of my generation, even if we were not lovers of rock and roll, we could not miss the important page in Cuban musical history that was being written that day in Havana.

9. Gente de Zona and Laura Pausini

That June 16, 2018 was epicIn the most Homeric sense of the word, it was quite an odyssey to spend a good time among the mud, the umbrellas and the rain that night “passed through water”. But neither the defiant torrential downpour nor the waiting hours were stronger than the desire to “enjoy” that we had. more than 250 thousand Cubans that we were crowded together in the Sports City.

Even so, we danced, sang and enjoyed each and every one of the songs that Gente de Zona gave us. The euphoria of the public was rising more and more as the guests of the night such as Diana Fuentes or the Puerto Ricans Zion and Lennox appeared on stage.

But the climax came at 12.05 am. when he went on stage the most anticipated guest of the night: Laura Pausini. An “other, another” was heard in chorus within the audience every time the Pausini finished a song, we wanted to stop time and that night would be eternal.

10. Gilberto Santa Rosa

The Knight of Salsa has always been one of the most liked representatives of the genre on the island. For this reason, when it became news that he would play first in Varadero and then in Havana, as part of his “40 and counting” world tour, the Cuban people thanked him infinitely. So much so that, in the middle of the concert, with a beautiful spontaneity and almost as if it were rehearsed, everyone present dedicated a “We love you” to the Puerto Rican salsero.

As expected, on July 16, 2018, in the Piragua I know gathered thousands and thousands of Cubans who hummed both their most romantic and most danceable hits. Some of them were “Conscience”, “Forgive me”, “Someone tell me”, “No matter how hard I try” and, to close in style, “I grab it going down.”

Final words

A few years ago Marc Anthony expressed his desire to do a concert in Cuba. If this Puerto Rican salsa singer were to step on a Cuban stage, not even the adjective “multitudinous” would be enough to describe the number of spectators that he would drag. And as much as him, there are many international musical exponents that we would like to see in our land. What foreign singer or group would you like to perform in Cuba? We read you in the comments!

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