It is one of the most beautiful nights Chicago has ever seen and those of us gathered at Instituto Cervanteshave just been told by the music hall’s master of ceremonies, that we are about to embark on a very “emotional experience.” Pause. Say what? The audience responds with giggles and soon everyone is wearing bright smiles as it is quickly proven that the MC was right. Spain’s Vetusta Morla performed in stellar fashion, full on rock mode from the very firstsong, surprising and immediately engaging those who were expecting an acoustic performance. It seemed the band was still reeling from weekend performances at Austin’s South by Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW).

The six band members of Vetusta Morla, who are currently on tour and heading to Mexico for a performance at the acclaimed Vive Latino music festival, had us entranced as soon as they set foot on stage. Curiously, the drummer and his kit were situated behind a large see-through sound structure while a second smaller drum/percussion set, together with a second keyboard and several electronic devices, was to his right. It was a small space for so many musicians and instruments, but it didn’t matter one bit as the band declared they were there to rock Chicago. They performed over 12 songs, re-exploring singles from most of their albums including Un Dia En El Mundo and their most recent release, Mapas.

It’s endearing to watch Vetusta Morla create their alternative rock, pop, fairy tale sounds before us. They are keen on details, eager to quench our high expectations. You can feel how important it was that the rhythm guitarist was on bent knee during the song Baldosas Amarillas, creating mini-passages of sound with the continuous twist of guitar pedals. The song’s romantic lyrical poetry alone induces sighs of disbelief. It was like imagining the sound track to a sound track.

The band also provoked dancing in the aisles as soon as Copenhague was uttered, eluding to the song’s idea of letting go. They were eager to play their best and proved this time and again, for example, during El Hombre Del Saco when three of them improvised the opening drum sounds by tapping together large wooden sticks in effortless rhythm. They played into the most perfect of endings ever seen at Instituto Cervantes.

Vetusta Morla continues its tour with several dates in Mexico, returning to perform in Los Angeles in early April, then heading home to Spain for several headlining performances. Their album Mapas is available on iTunes as well as the band’s website. As an added bonus, Mapas includes a postcard for each of their songs. Perfection!

 

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