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Los Mayores en Suiza
2 Days Off
July 2 - After the concert we got back to the hotel around 3:00 am to get some much needed sleep. But at about 3:30 or 4:00 the fire alarm went off in the hotel. I was too tired to care and just figured that one of the Cubans had been smoking and set off the alarm. It rang for probably 15-20 minutes after which we could finally get to sleep.
The next morning Ahmed said that the alarm was set off by a microwave oven, but the guy working the night shift was new and didn't know how to turn it off. Apprently all the Yumas had evacuated their rooms while none of the Cubans had. I guess that puts me in the latter category.
We had until 2:00 pm to run around Paris. Some people went shopping and others went sightseeing. When we got back we just hung out waiting for the bus to begin the 12 hour trip to Zurich.
Hanging out in Paris waiting for the bus
It was a long, tiring trip. Shortly after we crossed the Swiss border, Maykel decided he wanted to film, so he took the camera. We stopped to find some restrooms and stretch our legs but got thrown out of the first place because they were closing. We found another close by where we could get some coffee, and the guys checked out all the stuff for sale. At about 12:30 am we boarded back up to finish the trip and arrived at the hotel around 1:30 or 2:00am. The guys took turns filming so the following clips show what happens when you put the camera in the hands of Los Mayores.
July 3 - This was a rest day for the band. Los Mayores were let loose on Zurich. They spent their time looking for someplace to log onto the Internet and for what else? Yes, you guessed it, shopping. It's not as easy as you might think. First you have to find something you like that's in your size and then you have to hope it's not too expensive. As you can see in the video below, Pepe had some problems with this. He also had a traumatic experience with a chicken dinner that cost him 20 Euro, but when it arrived the chicken was only the size of a cornish game hen. I swear he talked about that chicken for the rest of the tour.
The weather in Zurich was pretty hard on the guys. It was cold and it rained almost constantly. It was quite a temperature change for them. July 4th was concert day but the guys spent the morning shopping again. This time some of them got lost so they were late getting back. Fortunately for them Maykel and Ramón also got lost and were actually the last ones to get back, so no one got in trouble. But we still made it to the soundcheck only 30 minutes late.
El Cubanito is an interesting venue. It's located several floors up in a business office building. Let's just say you have to know it's there to find it because you won't notice it just walking down the street.
The club has a good design with a circular bar at the entrance and the stage at the opposite end of the room with the dance floor in between. Not only is it an attractive design but it eliminates the problem of people crossing the dancefloor to get drinks. Along the walls you find antique, gilted sofas and chairs for realxing bewteen dances. Very classy.
So the soundcheck progessed as usual, but then something interesting happened. Maykel started playing something I didn't recognize, so I started filming. As far as I can tell the song is called Yo no pido tanto and it may be on the new CD. It was in the first stage of development with Maykel teaching the singers the coro: "Yo no pido tanto, solo quiero que me quieras otra vez Marisela". Sounds nice to me and I'm looking forward to hearing the full arrangement. I know that Salsa Mayor has already been in the studio recording another song since they returned to Cuba, but I don't know what song it was; maybe this one.
They ended the soundcheck with a traditional Cuban song that I don't know the name of because I don't know the names of many traditional Cuban songs. They were preparing something in case they found themselves playing for an audience that was unfamiliar with the group and was expecting something more like Buena Vista Social Club. I can tell you that they never had to fall back on that during the tour. The audiences were overwhelmingly made up of Salsa Mayor fans.
The Concert at El Cubanito
After a nice dinner and a quick trip to the hotel to shower and change clothes, we headed back to the club. I had been told by fans in Paris that Zurich was more heavily influenced by US salsa styles and that we should expect a smaller audience than at the first two concerts. This turned out to be true. I don't know how many people came, but it was definitely less than in Luxembourg and Paris, although three fans from Luxembourg had actually made the trip to Zurich to see Salsa Mayor a second time. I ran into them in the club while the guys were backstage and when I went back and told the band, they were really pleased to hear it.
The audience, while smaller, still had its share of Cubanos and Salsa Mayor fans. For much of the concert a Cubano and Cubana at the front of the audience led the fans in various pasos, including some afro-cuban steps during Quitándome lo malo and Brujería. There were also some very good casino dancers.
The band ended up doing Esto está twice this night too, but this time I knew why. There were some people from Rome who arrived late and requested the song, which was the opener during the tour, so the band obliged.
¿Cómo está eso?
Another notable difference between the first two concerts and the third was that during Ella dice, when it was time for the girls to come up on stage to dance, everyone refused, even the Cubanas. I don't know if this is just that they aren't as used to the despelote contests in Zurich, or if the ladies were just shy. Whatever the case, the song itself has already become another hit for Salsa Mayor here in Europe. As you now know, the live version they were doing during the tour starts as a ballad and then switches into timba. And as I mentioned before, throughout the tour we were all going around singing the intro to the song, especially Jaime. So pay close attention to the video when Norberto calls out "Jaime" it's to tease him for singing it so much.
Although the audience was smaller, they danced and sang and thouroughly enjoyed the concert. And I think the band did too. Even if they weren't playing to 1000 people, they were there to put on a great show and have a good time. As long as the audience is happy, so are they. Once again they were called back for an encore and performed one of my new favorites, Anda y pégate.
Ricardito doesn't want to catch you doing Brujería
And thus ended the trip to Switzerland. The next day we headed back to warmer climes, first stopping off in Rome and then moving on to Lecce for yet another jam-packed concert where Salsa Mayor was given an unexpected honor by the fans in Lecce and Salerno.