Silvia Cruz Lapeña
Photos: Javi Fergo
The artist closed the fourth edition of the Festival Flamenco On Fire with an enthralled audience, but left some people disappointed.
Miguel Poveda was in charge of closing out the Festival Flamenco On Fire with a show in which he offered songs from the recording Sonetos y Poemas para la Libertad, a flamenco repertoire and another of Spanish lyrical song. What follows is a summary of the good, the bad and the worst of the Catalonian’s show in Pamplona.
Poveda’s musicians: an incredible Jesús Guerrero took on the singer’s voice, which wasn’t up to par. The guitarist from San Fernando stood out on his own in bulerías from his recording “Calma”, and was the support the Catalonian leaned on throughout the three parts of the concert. You could tell the guitarist was covering up the singer’s deficiencies, and we were grateful, because, between one thing and another, he was doing great guitar work. Paquito González was in charge of adding a little sweetness to a show that was way too loud. Poveda shouted at times, which was why we were so grateful the discreet percussion had a delicate sound of its own, thanks to the man from Sanlúcar.
The tangos de Triana he danced: in the flamenco portion, Poveda got up from his chair, grabbed his crotch and pulled off some hip movements that were the most spontaneous moments of the night. You could see he was happy, having fun, and in that moment, he was somewhat more natural, managing to let us see the showman he most certainly is.
The Rafael Farina song: the repertoire of lyrical song was composed more of bits and pieces than entire songs, but the one he interpreted in its entirety, “Vente tú Conmigo”, was hair-raising. He was contained and on key, reminding everyone of what made him great.
The lighting: you can’t put lighting for “the always dark light of the soul” as if you were illuminating a block party. While Poveda recited that poem in which Lorca copies Fray Luis de León, the lights went on and off, pointing in the direction of the audience, blinding everyone. That visual noise was strange, even frivolous, and the chosen verses spoke of peace and freedom, and people who suffer and hate war.
The malagueña and the siguiriya: these were the most painful moments for flamenco fans, and there were quite a few at the Baluarte of Pamplona, since the singer, winner of a Lámpara Minera, interpreted these forms as if he were someone else other than that person who manages to get the most out of them. As if it weren’t Poveda, as if, indeed, the half-hour delay caused by a breakdown in the car that brought the artists, and which made him so nervous, had completely shaken him up.
The tics: the show was a bunch of posturing and so many dramatic closings, it subtracted spontaneity from the rest. It’s not true, as so many people say, that Poveda is incapable of grabbing the audience. He’s done it many times, but it didn’t happen last night, perhaps because this summer he’s had a lot of gigs, or perhaps because there’s no way to know whether he wants to be a lyrical singer or a crooner, Miguel de Molina or Michel Bublé. The audience loved it, or at least that’s what it seemed from the applause, but the show, despite talented people with good ideas that could have made a great work, ended up being more like a soap-opera.
The worst thing wasn’t Poveda himself, who has resources to cover up any flaws, he knows his audience and how to make them overlook the bad parts. The thing was, after the show, when Poveda attended the great concert of Kiki Morente with Juan Habichuela’s grandson, Daniel Melón and Popo at the Tres Reyes Hotel, you could tell he knew he’d been a flop, although he took it calmly. He protectors were more displeased, not only those who adore him, but everyone who approached critics and journalists to say, with a furrowed brow, “what a disaster”.
Yes, it’s a drag to have to write that the number one best-seller in concerts and fans, had a bad day and flopped (at the box-office, not artistically). And it’s not because of him, but rather the fear of negative feedback provoked by any article in which this artist’s work is evaluated.
So applaud Poveda, go crazy for him if that’s your thing, but let him get things right or wrong, and in any case, let us talk freely about it, the word “freedom” being the word most repeated by Miguel in the more than two hours his concert lasted.