Juan Luis Guerra’s Timeless Classics Come to Madison Square Garden
Fans flooded into Madison Square Garden for a rare opportunity to see Juan Luis Guerra and his 4.40 band play at one of the most prestigious venues in the U.S. this week. MSG was the fourth of twelve stops on Guerra’s Entre Mar y Palmeras Tour, named for the Dominican legend’s recent hits and live performance album compilation.
From the second they waded into their seats, members of the audience got to hear some of Guerra’s most beloved classics played through the stadium speakers. When Guerra finally appeared on stage, accompanied by his band 4.40, the screen behind him lit up with colorful images of flowers, beaches, and palmeras projecting hues of turquoise, greens and pinks onto the crowd and evoking the feeling of being in the tropics. Fans shouted at the top of their lungs, eager to greet their favorite singer. There was a fondness in the air, and sense of familiarity, almost as though Guerra was everyone’s favorite tio that they couldn’t wait to spend time with.
The show opened with renditions of timeless songs, such as “Rosalía,” “La Traviesa,” “La Llave de Mi Corazón,” and “Kitipun.” Suddenly, an eruption of booming conga drums burst out from the band, making the way for classics such as “Vale La Pena and “El Niagara en Bicicleta.” The latter is known as one of his most personal songs which is based off of his real life experience in a hospital in the Dominican Republic that lacked medical supplies, basic medicine, and inability to provide service to patients due to frequent blackouts.
During the peak of the show, Guerra sung his “Medley de Bachatas,” performing snippets of “Viviré,” “La Hormiguita,” “Bachata en Fukuoka,” “Que Me Des Tu Cariño,” “Mi Bendición,” and “Burbujas de Amor.” Finally, he brought out surprise guest Romeo Santos to join him in a rendition of “Frío Frío.” Needless to say the crowd went wild seeing New York’s own “King of Bachata” accompanying the legend on stage. In the middle of all the excitement, members of the band also had some time to launch into their own instrumental solos. The most notable of the solos came from a keyboardist and back-up singer: The keyboard solo smack dab in the middle of “El Farolito” became so intense that she ended up headbanging as she fed off the energy of the crowd.
Guerra seemed to close the show with “Bachata Rosa” and “Ojala Que Llueva Café,” but there was one track noticeably missing from the setlist: one of his most famous and beloved. The lights shut off and Guerra left the stage, leaving the crowd roaring “Otra!” After a break, he came back onstage as the band blared the trumpet-heavy intro and he gave the audience a show-stopping version of “La Bilirrubina” to end the night on the highest note possible.