Voice: Diego El Cigala. Guitar: Diego del Morao and Paquete. Piano: Jaime Calabuch ‘Jumitus’. Percussion: Piraña. Baluarte. Festival Flamenco On Fire. Full house. August 26th, 2018
I wish this could have been the chronicle of a show, more or less on the mark, of Diego el Cigala. But unfortunately, what we saw Sunday night at the closing of the Flamenco on Fire festival, was the sad exhibition of an artist who seems to have forgotten who he is and what he represents. A lack of professionalism and absolute disrespect for flamenco and the audience which had bought up all 1600 tickets at the Baluarte de Pamplona, in many cases making great sacrifices to see him and who went home suffering the pain of loss. The loss of an idol who could not even be applauded for his Lágrimas Negras.
El Cigala has been teeter-tottering for a long time on the brink between being cool and being pathetic, a fine line on which he’s ended up inclining towards the more dangerous, sadder side. Because if there’s anything wonderful about flamenco, it’s precisely that it’s a living, emotional even spiritual art in which the artist always begins at zero, prepared to initiate again and again his or her particular quest for the “duende”. This is why it’s so unpleasant to attend a recital in which the singer starts out already in the dumps, apathetic, defeated.
It was impossible to find a single moment of connection with the Madrid singer, for the simple reason that there was nothing there. It was another Diego, del Morao, who held up the first part with his guitar when it was supposed to have been Cigala singing flamenco. In fact, while the latter let one musical lead after another go by without so much as starting to sing, the Jerez guitarist exhibited extreme wisdom and generosity offering what turned out to be the recital of the evening. To such an extent that it was his rhythm and flamenco quality, his energy, his speed and the quality of his playing the only thing that triggered applause and cheering from the audience (“what a terrific guitarist!”). Among other reasons, because all the rest was a boring rip-off. An insult to everyone who thought that stars this big would help attract new audiences to this art-form, but we see it can work in the opposite direction.
We thought things might come together in the second part with boleros and the great hits that brought stardom to the singer. But he continued to be absent, and the audience wasn’t about to applaud his attitude. “Have another drink!” joked some people when he asked for a refill.
And it was here, naturally, that the pianist and bassist gave color and light to an unintelligible Cigala, who was incapable of ending, much less feeling, and of these wonderful profound verses. I repeat, it was equal parts pain and anger.
From disappointment to the future
After the Cigala disappointment, it was the dancer Belén López who stirred up the Navarra audience with her savage dancing, pure art – she clearly came to give everything on stage.
A tsunami as dancer Blanca del Rey said in her presentation, shaking the chandeliers of the Tres Reyes Hotel, leaving everything impregnated with her freshness and racial power. Now, yes. (photo gallery + videos Belén López)