Having seen the show before (London, 16.12.), I was kind of thinking "I must be mad, travelling to Madrid just to see it a second time." But boy it was worth the trouble and expense, and a lot more. It was quite a different experience.
First of all, Plaza de Toros Monumental de las Ventas is Madrid's biggest bull-fighting arena (my lonely planet guide says it is the biggest in the world, but I haven't checked that), and it has its own underground station. Walking up the stairs from the metro, I found myself just outside the mildly (and fittingly) arabic looking main entrance, and there wasn't even too much of a queue. Thus, having planned for 8.30 arrival, I found myself in the arena ahead of time. The special guest group were playing already, and I haven't got a clue who they were, but they were quite good (essentially, AOR in Spanish), and many people in the audience seemed to know their songs. Found myself a standing space some 15 rows of heads away from the stage. Funnily enough, my position improved over time without me doing anything. Must be something like the big pebbles rising and the small pebbles sinking in the ground. Being alone, I was a small pebble - and the people sticking together in groups were ready to give up space in order to stay close to their friends.
After the warm-up show, we were treated to a screening of Shakira's collected commercials for Pepsi and Reebok, which I hadn't seen before, and they are actually quite nice. (Have already bought Reebok shoes in support of her efforts, but Pepsi is where I draw the line!) The beginning of the main program was obviously timed to start just after sunset (9.30) and it did so with only a small delay of 15 or 20 minutes. Even before it started, the difference between the crowds in London and Madrid was quite obvious. The level of excitement that was reached towards the end of the London show was comparable to the zero level at Madrid, i.e. the atmosphere when the "Welcome to the Jungle" tape announced the main show.
The show as such was essentially the same, except that a few English titles were dropped, and the bilingual singles (Objection, WW) switched to Spanish, leaving only UYC, Rules, Ready for the Good Times, and the two covers in English. If memory serves, Donde estan los ladrones and Te Dejo Madrid were introduced to replace Poem to a horse and The one. Which creates a setlist something like this (no guarantees):
Ojos asi cobra, belly-dance
Within the titles kept, there were some subtle changes:
The venue was just perfect (BIG difference to Wembley Arena). The circular arena with two balconies represents probably the most compact shape in which to pack 10,000+ people (and "pack" is not a figure of speech here!) And it was nice to have the night sky above. In fact, some of the paper "snow" used at the end was caught in an up wind and remained suspended above the arena for at least 20 minutes after the end.
But the biggest difference was of course the audience. In football terms, this was the home game following the away game. In London, there were maybe 90 % bewildered onlookers to 10 % fans, and here it was the other way round at least. Mostly female and 20ish, they recognised every Spanish song from the first bar and knew every single word of the lyrics (only with the pronounciation of Spain rather than Colombia).
My favourite piece from the show must be Ojos asi. I don't care much for the giant cobra, but the use of the instruments, from the fiddler in the mist through to the rock guitars and the lute (or whatever it was that Tim played after the fiddle bit), was wonderful. I also have a soft spot for the special arrangements of Objection (Afro Punk version) and WW (Sahara version), but as I have heard these a thousand times from the LS/WD album, the novelty has worn off a little bit by now. Un poco de amor is still good after all these years, especially with Albert doing the reggae. My least favourite one was Underneath your clothes. I kind of like the unplugged version of that, but for the show they went the opposite way and drowned it in an arrangement that I didn't like at all. In fact, I think that the acoustic UYC would have made a nice second encore, to calm people down after all the excitement of WW / Suerte.
Anyway, we didn't get a second encore, but many people showed no hurry in leaving the venue and just settled down on the ground to start a midnight fiesta. Which made it a bit difficult to get out of the place. So I got myself a beer and finished it leisurely before getting out. And bought a t-shirt plus a poster. When I finally got through to the metro station, the platform was packed, so the next train was filled to capacity with people coming out of the concert, some of them still singing enthusiastically ...
Oh well. I did say I'd go to see this tour a third time if the opportunity arose, but the trouble is that this instalment is a very hard act to follow. Would probably have to travel to Latin America to beat this experience. But watch this space.