Where to start, where to start…For those of us who have been attending Latin artists concerts for a number of years now the mere fact that the artist actually made it to our city could be considered a smashing success. Whether Latino Eventos, the organizers (and I do use that term loosely) made a real effort to create a successful event from the get-go or things just got out of control at the last minute, it’s hard to know. Maybe in a subsequent conversation they could explain what happened and where things went wrong. Or maybe lack of experience in this area or the magnitude of this event (and the artist himself) was too much too handle. But the fact remains this event (of many events we have attended over the years) was probably one of— if not “the” most— disorganized of Latin events that have been held in Toronto in the last few years.
But I gotta say, if there is one people that can make the best of things and have an absolutely fantastic time in spite of all the shortcomings, that has got to be the Colombians. And the number one person who made the best of a terrible situation somewhat bearable was the artist himself, Andrés Cepeda. From the minute he got on stage (or the makeshift stage that was set up for him, really) at almost 11:00 at night, he expressed his most heartfelt apologies to his audience because, as he said, he had prepared a fantastic show with sound, lights, a 16-piece band, screens and so much more for this his historic first-time stop in our city. In the end, he performed accompanied by piano, guitar (both highly accomplished musicians, mind you); only one of the screens was sporadically working, the sound was worse than if it had been an elementary school production but Cepeda— true and seasoned artist that he is— gave the best of himself and his extensive repertoire to his adoring audience who, like I said before, were just so thankful and incredibly excited to have him right here, in our own backyard. Well, if your backyard is Brampton, that is.
Cepeda performed as best he could some of his best known and highly successful hits, and the crowd chanted along with him, cheered enthusiastically and just plain enjoyed themselves intensely for the almost an hour an a half the concert lasted. To those of us who know what this incredible artist is capable of, the extent of his musical legacy and the caliber of his talent, deserving nothing but the best stages our city has to offer, it was a little bit of a slap on the face. We felt even worse for the hard-working Colombians, who paid good money to see a show that was (and I’m going to be kind here) mediocre at best, and as we sat there in what felt like an overblown community town hall meeting set-up we hoped the organizers (who were otherwise very kind, inclusive and responsive, unlike some other Toronto Latin promoters) learn from this hard-learned lesson and the many mistakes made at this event and move forward with bigger, better and more successful events.
I was personally rooting for this new-on-the-scene female head of the company and I am still rooting for them as they grow and take this experience with a grain of salt and do better next time: start working on getting proper stages and concert halls (Rebel? Koerner Hall? Danforth Hall? Sooo many!) with the appropriate lights and sound for a concert of this caliber, maybe appropriate catering and bar service for the numbers expected. Maybe even some water bottles next time?
As for Andrés Cepeda, I really do hope he comes back in to our beautiful multicultural and always welcoming city, where he can put on a show that is worthy of his talent and musical legacy and that he is given another chance to perform for his adoring Colombian and Latin audience in the way he knows how. Until then, and for those of us who have waited so long for this concert to happen, at least we got to see this incredible and iconic artist live for one short-lived moment. Until next time, Andrés.