November 26th, 27th and 28th
Cante: Argentina Guitarra: Bolita and Eugenio Iglesias. Percussion: José Carrasco
Dance and palmas: Torombo. Palmas and jaleos: Los Mellis
EL EXPRESO DE HUELVA
Text: Pablo San Nicasio Ramos
Photos & video: Rafael Manjavacas
The last interview we did with Argentina was titled: “You have to keep moving, there’s no other choice”. A good example of that concept can be seen, heard and felt this last week of November in the very flamenco Lara Theater. Three consecutive days where the girl from Huelva single-handedly puts all her cards on the table, risking everything on the premise of independence, bravery and tradition. In other words, quality.
Bravery, because if that statement seems to be situated in a precarious place as far as flamenco goes, it’s also true that there are plenty of people who protest, but few who really stick their necks out and step forward putting their careers on the line with no support other than their own hard work and sacrifice. Something the couple Argentina and Luismi have in abundance. It’s true that for a premiere there’s always an audience, the media, some famous figures and the lifetime friends. But Argentina came for a three-day run. And that’s with the full-blown economic situation being what it is. But Argentina isn’t precisely after making money…she’s looking for what all those people who are cowering in the hopes of better times ought to be looking for.
In 2011 in Sabatini we’d already heard a preview of “Viaje por el Cante”. A herculean flamenco effort. And yesterday at the Lara, with the polish of time and the benefit of study, Argentina put her show on just right, with a perfectly clear conscience.
There was no doubt about her faculties, it was all right there. Argentina no longer travels only through a good portion of the range of basic flamenco cantes. She passes through like an express train and settles in at levels that make a mockery of all those who say young people just don’t get it, they don’t listen, they don’t start from the ground up.
Being a big show, almost two hours, “Un Viaje por el Cante” is one of the most important artistic undertakings of recent years in flamenco. So it was a challenge, because in a live show there can easily be mistakes, high and low points that allow for every sort of opinion given the amount of material offered (more than twenty different styles), but which was tantamount to a bare-bones exposition for a flamenco doctoral thesis. A tremendous and enormously personal vision of cante. The ideal situation to consider this girl, still in her twenties, a true star.
And it was an express train, because the speed of the convoy (last night, absolutely solid in compás, guitar and percussion), doesn’t even give you time to admire the landscape. This resulted in some things like the serrana, petenera, tientos, bambera and tonás passing by like a motorized maelstrom and giving no time to savour the details. We are quite sure Argentina is a capable singer, but it was probably an overdose of bulerías, in detriment to those cantes which, in her voice, are equally appealing for the general audience, and which we could barely appreciate.
The malagueña of Baldomero Pacheco was important, her cante of cantiñas registered a high mark and of course, the fandango encore.
Overall, it didn’t feel that long, and Argentina herself was surprised we remained after such a long time. Care was taken in the presentation of the cantes, and the back-up musicians took turns at holding the spotlight. It all contributed to the good pacing.
Maybe it’s just rote learning like some people say, but when you attend a concert like this, so well-studied and meticulous from the outset, you get carried away. She’s not looking for magic gremlins that may not even show up. Argentina has a different attitude. It’s like putting yourself in the hands of a trusted doctor. We know full well Argentina and crew will cure all the wounds of time, at least for two hours.