Central Park SummerStage
Saturday, July 12
The heat-punch that recently hit us with surrendered on Saturday, perhaps to be more welcoming to an out-of-town guest: Julieta Venegas, Mexico’s songbird who played a charming set at SummerStage in Central Park. (Yeah, aside from Bon Jovi).
Aside from the recent release of her MTV Unplugged album, Julieta Venegas served as the closing headliner to the Latin Alternative Music Conference. Before Venegas’s ensemble and acoustic performance, Chilean mixer DJ Bitman spun a chill intro, followed by the Mexican rock band Plastilina Mosh, who came off like a second-class Molotov.
But Venegas’s hour-long set did capture, quite beautifully, the singer’s catalog. The svelte singer, wearing a purple-striped summer dress, brought out a barrage of musicians playing tuba, saxophone, violin, clarinet, flute and…I stopped counting at this point. For her own part, Venegas multitasked on guitar, piano, and the instrument for which she’s best known, the accordion. From her debut Aquí to her breakout pop effort Sí and Limón y Sal, Venegas masterly performed a more fluid and richer version of the old rock-laced favorite, “De Mis Pasos.”
As the breeze got cooler, the outdoor setting seemed more of an intimate affair, which Venegas prompted to say in Spanish, “Since we’re comfortable with each other, and this is just between us, New York, you’re the one for me,” which then gave way to “Eres Para Mi.” That’s the cool thing about her. Neither she, nor her lyrics, shy away from just pouring it all out there, making even meatheads sway their arms from side-to-side (and there were more than a few getting in touch with their girly side).
“Some things have to be said face-to-face,” Venegas said before she began a rousing performance of “Andar Conmigo,” in which she says “there is so much that I want to tell you/So much that I want to know about you/Would you want to be with me?”
On Saturday, it was pretty evident, we do.