Teatro Cariola, Santiago, Chile, August 5th
I went to Santiago to speak at a public event sponsored by the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio. I expected to hear a lot of local music during my visit. I was not expecting New Wave renewal. In this funky Santiago dancehall, the Furs – on a South American tour between dates in Argentina and Peru – were as dark and driving as the first time I saw them in New York, in 1980, but with more greatest hits. Singer Richard Butler prowled the stage with a limber menace and that scoured-Bowie signature in his voice; the band – with founding bassist Tim Butler, Richard's brother, and longtime saxophonist Mars Williams – brought the night to a thrust-and-drone climax in "India."
I also saw a lot of Chilean rock history unfold in front of me: a rehearsal by the progressive-rock institution Los Jaivas, performing tracks from the 1981 concept LP, Alturas de Machu Picchu; a set by the Eighties synth-punk group Electrodomésticos, opening for the Furs; a double bill of the long-running prog-folk groups Congreso and Inti-Illimani; and an entrancing living-room session by an ensemble led by Angel Parra Orrego and Javiera Parra, singing the songs of their late grandmother, Chilean folk icon Violeta Parra. On Las Últimas Composiciones de Violeta Parra (Evolucion), Angel and Javiera give new light and blood to Violeta's final songs, originally issued the year before her suicide in 1967.