El Reencuentro “Together Again” Ex-Menudos in Concert (my Review for Entertainment Affair)
It does not matter how old you are, marital status, mother or not, when you hear the word “Menudo” you go back, way back to a time in your life when you were wearing either bulky shoulder pads, acid-wash jeans or neon clothes as you were crushing for one of the members of this Puerto Rican boy band. Formed in the 1970’s, Menudo became the most popular Latin American musical group of the 80’’s, with record breaking ticket sales in most of the cities they visited. Girls were crazy about them. Boys would secretly sing their songs and imitate their classic moves.
Such was the impact that throughout the years the members of the band have reunited several times to take us back to an era, a classical era in pop culture, especially in Puerto Rico. The past 31st of January was one of those days when six of the founding members of the legendary group. Ricky Melendez, Rene Farrait, Johnny Lozada, Miguel Cancel, Ray Reyes and Charlie Massó reunited at the James L Knight Center in Miami, FL.
The night started off with a one-minute summary of the impact Menudo had in the cities they visited. It seems impossible to show it all in one minute but it was really well edited and was bringing up the audience’s excitement. This audience, mostly women in their 30’s and 40’s was already anxious to see the group back on stage which they did with their first song of the night, ‘Voulez Vous’. Everybody got up on their feet and welcomed them with screams, same as in the past. As I said before, Menudo seems to always bring the fan in you, no matter the age. It was impossible to seat again, especially when the songs that followed were some of their biggest hits, ‘Fuego’, ‘Claridad’, ‘Susana’, and ‘Clara’. It was in this last song, as well as in ‘Dulces Besos’ where Johnny Lozada showed us what an impressive vocalist he still is.
Throughout the night videos were shown of performances and fans both in the early years as well as ‘El Reencuentro’, name given to their reunion shows. I want to point out how much I enjoyed seeing some of the members of the group, such as Rene Farrait during ‘Quiero Ser’, mentioning their children who were sitting in the audience. It was an intimate evening of memories where the guys seemed confident, relaxed, often acknowledging friends and family they saw in the audience and also laughing and making fun of each other when one of them would mess up a dance move.
Accompanied by powerful musicians and back up singers (including Rey Reyes’ brother Raúl Reyes), Menudo’s ‘El Reencuentro’ had us dancing to some of their other classics such as ‘Tu te Imaginas’, ‘Y yo no Bailo’, ‘A Bailar’, ‘Rock en la T.V.’, ‘A Volar’, ‘No te Reprimas’, ‘Mi Banda Toca Rock’, and of course, the classic ‘Subete a Mi Moto’. One of the most entertaining was Rey Reyes’ ‘Zumbador’. The guys focused on the two sides of the stage and brought a little bit of ‘Doo Wop’ to the show.
Even when the group would switch to their slower songs, the crowd would not sit down. If they were not dancing to their classical choreographies, they, and let me include my self, would be singing with them those ballads that still give us goose bumps such as ‘Si Tu No Estas’, ‘Por Amor’ and ‘Padre Nuestro’. In these last two Miguel Cancel proves that he is one of the best singers that Menudo has ever had. His voice has always been so unique and simply great. I also loved how he decided to wear a skirt at the beginning of the show, which I thought was risky, clever and perfect! They all started off as more elegant and then switched to casual wardrobe, for example, Ricky’s University of Miami T-Shirt.
Being that this show was in Miami where the Latin community grows by the minute and Menudo was the most popular Latin American teen musical group of the era, it was a good idea that they dedicated a segment singing classics of some other countries, such as Panamá, Mexico and Venezuela. They also congratulated Colombia for their last Miss Universe win. But, let’s not forget Puerto Rico. They paid tribute through music, a beautiful image of the flag and a slideshow of different Puerto Rican personalities that have proudly represented the island, including Hector Lavoe, Jose Feliciano, El Gran Combo, boxers Miguel Cotto and Tito Trinidad, and last but not least, the one and only and Menudo alumni, Ricky Martin.
In general, it was a fun, exciting two hours and fifteen minutes concert from the moment it started all the way until the end where people kept asking for the encore. It felt good listening to songs that don’t necessarily take you to a break up or a memory of a lost love. These are songs that take you to your childhood, your first crush on an artist, your parents dropping you off in Telemundo so you could go see Menudo in Noche De Gala, a time where you would not miss a beat while changing a status on Facebook or Twitter. Menudo takes you back to the simple and pure life. As long as they keep doing ‘El Reencuentro’ I am sure people will be buying tickets and showing up. Plus, they still have the moves!!
(Photos courtesy of Sevilla Group)