Concert Review from This Is London.
Familiar faces from the London salsa scene crowded the dance floor at the Hammersmith Palais, mojitos in hand, to bask in the seething energy, timba and songo rhythms of the best dance band in the world - Los Van Van!
It was the same lineup of vocalists that we'd seen two years ago - Mayito, Lele, Yeni and Roberto. It's a terrific setup which allows them to spend over ten minutes on each song, with each singer taking turns to solo, and captivate the audience during the improvised montuno section. Without dropping of exhaustion that is!
Roberto opened the set with a sizzling version of Chapeando, using the montuno to ask the audience - who here speaks Spanish? (massive cheer), and the usual shouts out to the various latino populations.
I cheered for the Mexicans but as usual we're hardly present...:-(
Los Van Van are the only dance band I've seen who command a performance like a rock band, with all the hand-waving and the audience participation on the popular songs. Some very hot Cuban girls stage-jumped to dance with Mayito and Roberto. During Somos Cubanos Mayito invited a rumbero (rumba dancer) to join him for an impromptu performance of guaguanco.
We were close to the front, right in the throng of shaking shoulders. It was terrific to see the performers up close. I'd never noticed how cute and sweet Yeni is (their female vocalist) - and what an incredible sonera. In live performance her singing has a breath-taking confidence and especially in the improvised section where she asked all the girls - Ain't it true that all men are a pain? And what do you do with a rubbishy one? Hey, I told mine to get out...I did! Wrecked his bike, yeh! And told that loser to catch the bus. Well what was I going to do? Jeez. What idiots men can be. (that's a somewhat cleaned up, free translation). Yeni has this really cheeky way of grinning and shimmying her shoulders. She's cool.
Lele is also cute and cheeky, joking with the audience as he sings. Mayito and Roberto have total control of an audience when they take the solo. Well, they do get all the best tunes.
Awesome night. Too bad we have to wait two more years to see them again!
Set includes solid favourites - Chapeando, Soy Todo, Tim Pop Con Birdland, Te Pone La Cabeza Mala, Somos Cubanos.
They are still on tour in Europe. Looks like an exhausting schedule!
Los Van Van website
Agua live performance (professional video)
Youtube fan video of Los Van Van live in EuroDisney 200, performing Soy Todo (Ay Dios Amparame).
Thank you for coming to London, Van Van! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!