Madrid – Panamanian singer-songwriter and salsa icon Ruben Blades turned back the clock in a performance at the Spanish capital's Veranos de la Villa summer festival, treating his audience to a selection of his best-loved hits.
Accompanied by the 13-piece Roberto Delgado Orchestra from Panama, Blades made his appearance at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday before a crowd that included a large number of flag-waving Latin American immigrants.
After introducing his band, Blades showed he has lost nothing of his old spark at the age of 62 and even interspersed some jokes between songs such as "Las Calles" (The Streets) and "Caina."
"This song was banned during the dictatorship in Panama" for allegedly promoting abortion, Blades said before his rendition of "Decisiones" (Decisions) set people dancing in the aisles and even behind the fence of the outdoor venue.
Blades, also a former Panamanian tourism minister and ex-presidential candidate, later sang the song, "Plaza Herrera," that is dedicated to the Panama City neighborhood where he grew up and still has a home.
The surprise of the evening came when Latino jazz trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez joined Blades on stage for a performance of "Plantacion adentro" (On the Plantation), engaging in a riveting brass duel with one of the trombone players.
Despite the unseasonably cool weather, no one left the Puerta del Angel outdoor concert venue until hearing Blades' internationally recognized hit "Pedro Navaja" (Peter the Knife) and encore performances of "Patria" (Fatherland) and "El padre Antonio y su monaguillo Andres" (Father Antonio and His Altar Boy Andres).