Last Sunday I discovered, quite by chance, that Chambao were to play in Escenario Santander on Thursday 20 November. I just had to be there.
I bought the ticket online, but getting to the place turned out to be not as trivial. Their website does not tell you how to. There’s no bus that goes directly to Escenario. I was told that #6, #7 and #20 move in that general direction. I took the first bus that came my way, #20. The bus driver did not know where Escenario was, however a fellow passenger promised to show me the way. She did and, when I thanked her, insisted on dos besitos. I say.
I arrived there quarter to nine and was surprised to see a crowd outside. In contrast to what was printed on the ticket, the concert did not start at 21:00. They only opened the doors at that time. The venue itself uncannily reminded me of Cambridge Junction 1: dark interior, similarly-sized standing space (no seats, that is), overpriced beer, a small stall with (overpriced) merchandise... At 21:30 they started to screen the advertisements of forthcoming events in Escenario. Man it was boring, especially for the third time. At 22:00, the projector was switched off, to the enthusiastic applause, but nothing happened. At 22:05 the upbeat Balkan-ish music began to play through the PA, but there was no sign of the band. The public, densely-packed by now, started to clap and whistle. Myself included. I mean, Paco de Lucía used to be late but not that late. At 22:18, La Mari was on stage to a rock-star greeting, and this organisational disaster did not matter anymore.
Somehow, don’t know why really, I wasn’t expecting so much energy from the band. Nor from the audience who were dancing and singing (they appeared to know all the words!) with La Mari non-stop for two hours. So much for santanderino reserve. I begin to doubt that there is even such a thing. Unless all the people who go to the same events I go (and board the same buses that I do; see above) are not santanderinos. No, there was nothing chilled out about this night at all. You’d better believe me, it was one of these events which make anyone who happens to be there happy and in love.
Chambao played quite a few encores (Otra! Otra!) and concluded the show with Te la creío tú — starting as a tango, ending as a ska.