Excepting fans' shouts of “We love you!” and “Take it off!” there wasn't a whole lot of English spoken during Juanes' Sunday show at the Patriot Center. The Colombian pop idol and corazon-throb sang and chattered almost exclusively in his native Spanish, and no subtitles flashed on the video screens surrounding the stage. But Juanes' 90-minute set had enough passion and sweat and melodrama to engage and enthrall even those whose exposure to the Romance languages never got much beyond ”chimichanga.”
Musically, Juanes, who is occasionally dubbed the Columbian Bono, relies mainly on American pop with assorted world beat flourishes thrown in. He did sort of a reggae strut across the stage while playing the guitar solo on "Volverte a Ver," a tune with a timeless and borderless theme of a soldier longing to come home to his chica, and again during "La Camisa Negra," a melodramatic confession that all he got out of a torrid romance was a lousy black shirt. He went to an Irish jig while his band, which had three percussionists, banged out the grandiose "Todos Los Dias."
Glo-sticks and flags of various Latin American countries waved in equal numbers throughout the night. And while the singer shouted out to the folks carrying Mexican, Columbian and Ecuadorian banners, he turned down constant offers from fans to take any one of the flags to the stage, probably out of fear of alienating those loyal to the unchosen. (Bono would have grabbed 'em all.)
During his encore, Juanes performed "Rebelion," a tune with an Afro-Caribbean rhythm that had him singing about Cartagena, a diverse Colombian port city still shaped by the role it played centuries ago in the African slave trade. Though the subject matter was dark, the music was joyous, and couples filled the aisles and the movable bleachers toward the back of the hall shook as the fans showed they were still ready to rumba. Hips don't lie, you know?