An Arjona concert is, just like his very first hit single, a verb, not a noun. An event of action and constant love flowing back and forth, and not a passive delivery of melodies. This Guatemalan singer who found his voice in Argentina and his success in Mexico is by now a known commodity for all Latin Americans who love his Spanish language songs as much as poets love words and heartache. Judging by the packed to the roof capacity crowd at Texas Trust CU Theatre on Saturday, May 20, there are several thousand people in Dallas who not only know his every twist of words in a song but look forward to his concerts like a shipwreck survivor seeks dry land.
Despite having found massive success with platinum-certified albums in over 20 countries since the early 90s, Arjona constantly reminds us, through his social media videos and from the stage, that his start was one he can never leave behind, and when he chooses a couple of songs from his landmark album, 1994’s Historias, the audience shows that 29 years have simply strengthened the love they have for songs as Señora de las Cuatro Décadas (Lady of Four Decades) and Historia del Taxi (A story of a taxicab). Using every resource to enhance songs that the crowd has perfectly memorized, the show was impressive and immersive. One of those “you had to be there!” events because while the word immersive is frequently thrown around when a show includes high end visuals and light show that put a spotlight on the crowd as much as on the performers, for Ricardo Arjona, it literally means pick a person from the crowd, bring them up on stage, seat them at a carefully designed cubicle ten feet above the stage and sit next to her while he introduces her story to the crowd and sings the famed verse of a song dedicated to a woman he loved when he was 20, and she was 20 years old, hence the name Lady of Four Decades.
If that one stands out as one of his more memorable songs, and one of the oldest in his repertoire performed this time, the show went even farther back, when Arjona took a moment to grab a guitar and sing all by himself trying to listen to whatever song the audience yelled the loudest. He chose three, and despite some of them being 35 years old, he gracefully hit the right notes, the right tone, and left the audience mesmerized after the minutes when his guitar was accompanied by the thousands of voices at the venue.
Arjona’s stature helped him stand out early in his first career as a basketball player, a career that allowed him to be a record holder in points for his men’s national basketball team. Today, it is his stature as a giant in Spanish language music that makes his shows unique and extraordinary. Two weeks before packing up three different Texas cities, he had sold out the largest basketball arenas in LA and San Francisco. After his Dallas show, he has a couple more dozen shows in the US, before coming back by the end of June to two more shows in McAllen and El Paso in early July.
And for anyone at the Grand Prairie concert, it was clear that he will be remembered and missed until the next tour brings him back around. After all, his shows are like the women in his songs. His songs about love gone bad when the woman is in someone else’s arms, and they’re both off worse apart, that he is always wanting them back to love them better next time. The same way are his songs taken away from him by the audience who makes them their own, but just like Arjona’s muses, who have left him and belong to someone else. Now the songs have done the same and belong to the crowd, only to be celebrated and given back to him, for him to offer new love and new arrangements, and allow the love affair to continue. If you have not seen Arjona in concert, it is a love affair with music you must witness.