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Juanes Rocks Staples Center

By Mark Fisher
Published: Monday, March 14, 2011, at 05:39PM
Juanes Mark Fisher

Latin superstar Juanes returned to Downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, March 13th, with an appearance packed with hits at Staples Center. The 38-year-old Colombian heartthrob is currently on tour in support of P.A.R.C.E., the songwriter’s critically-acclaimed fifth studio album which debuted in December 2010. While many in the States may not be familiar with his strictly-Spanish offerings, Juanes is a legend in the world of Latin music. His performance at Staples Center last Sunday night certainly proved why he is heralded as one of the most iconic musicians to emerge in the last 50 years.

Juanes was born Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez in Carolina del Príncipe, Antioquia, Columbia, roughly 105 kilometers north of Medellín. Influenced by his father and brothers, Juanes started playing guitar at a young age and formed his first band—Ekhymosis—when he was just 16-years-old. Not only was he a founding member, but Juanes was the primary vocalist, songwriter and guitarist for the group. Inspired by the likes of Metallica, Ekhymosis went on to become one of Colombia’s top hard-rock / metal acts. Looking to expand his horizons, the singer went solo and moved to Los Angeles in the late '90s. The risky move paid off and eventually paved the artist’s path to global domination in album sales, awards and chart positions.

In 2000, Juanes released his debut album, Fíjate Bien, which received seven Latin GRAMMY nominations (three were actually won). His second album, Un Dia Normal, cleaned house at the 2003 Latin GRAMMY telecast. The singer won five Latin GRAMMY Awards that year, including “Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year.” The performer’s third album, Mi Sangre, was released in September 2004 and debuted at number one on the Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart. The album delivered three consecutive number one singles, which provided Juanes with the means to sell out landmark venues like Madison Square Garden here in the United States. He swept the Latin Grammy Awards once again in 2008 with his fourth studio album, La Vida… Es Un Ratico. With over 15 million records sold, there’s no explanation needed on why Juanes continues to perform inside sold-out arenas and stadiums around the world.

Juanes opened the Staples Center appearance with the rocking hit ”Yerbatero,” the first single off his latest album, P.A.R.C.E.. The singer and his backing band of tight musicians wasted no time and immediately followed up with the head-bobbing “La Paga.” The energetic set continued with “Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor" ("I Am Worthless Without Your Love") and 2005’s “LA Camisa Negra.” Juanes rarely let a guitar leave his hands throughout the entire evening. Other highlights included “Fotografía” and “Hoy Me Voy,” two songs that were originally recorded with Nelly Furtado and Colbie Caillat respectively. The inspirational singer kept his audience engaged with LED video screens, rock-show audio/visuals and motivational messages that had concertgoers begging for more.

Several Colombian flags were spotted amongst the sea of 11,000 adoring L.A.-based fans. Juanes punched through a well-formulated set of twenty songs without skipping a beat. The audience didn’t seem to mind that it was a Sunday night, nor did it care for a single word of English. The majority of the crowd stood on their feet while singing along to every word during the entire hour-and-a-half set. The night wasn’t complete without a performance of “Y No Regresas,” which was initially released last year with an accompanying video that was shot in the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. The singer closed out the show with a 4-song encore that included “Este Noche,” “Mala Gente,” “Odio Por Amor” and “A Dios Le Pido.”

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