News / Music, Remezcla

Cenizas del Ayer

Beto Cuevas has been practicing his Jim Morrison moves. The man has them down. The ex-lead singer of Chilean rock group La Ley had disappeared from the limelight for a good while, and recently burst back onto the stage (literally) with an 18-date national promo tour (courtesy of Jack Daniels), and a whole bunch of polished rockstar moves. Granted, he’d always been known for his exaggerated performances, but somehow I thought that came with the stadium-sized concerts, La Ley, and, well, the ’90s. Apparently not. ’Cause in addition to having given acting and activism a whirl over the past few years, Beto has mastered mic swinging, pelvic gyrations, high kicks, and elaborate (“expressive”?) hand motions, not to mention the dramatic leap at the end of each song.

We caught him twice this past week, eager to check out his new music and report back to our Remezcla readers about what was good, what was so-so, and what was just eh. This tour was supposed to serve as a sort of A&R meter to help Beto figure out what songs to put on his upcoming solo album (due out this summer on Warner), but frankly, I couldn’t even begin to tell you the first thing about his songs. I was too distracted. Between the flashing lights, elaborate set fit for U2 and Beto’s crazy stage antics, the last thing I was paying attention to was the music.

This new solo effort is very much the Beto show. As the last member to join La Ley, he was always part of a group, and although he was the lead singer, it never was all about just him. Well, now it is, and he lets you know that.  He’s assembled a damn good band of gringos (including Shakira’s drummer, and one white dude with a crrrazy afro), who basically seem like the best session musicians money can buy, and they play a tight set, eso si, but there’s no real chemistry between Beto and them.  Beto wilds out while they keep on playing, and probably wondering what he’s shouting about in Spanish (there are some songs in English too).  The whole show seemed like one of those convoluted made-for-TV bands that you see in energy drink ads or teeny bopper movies–the only thing missing was a light bulb-studded B-E-T-O flashing behind him.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some rock star behavior and a good show. I love the guitar smashing, crowd surfing, off-the-wall outfits, and crazy facial expressions that are so emblematic of rock music.  But somehow the rock ’n’ roll gets lost and the cheese takes over when it all seems extremely, meticulously practiced. And dated. Beto’s a good looking man, and I’m sure he spends a decent amount of time in front of the mirror, so it’s no stretch of the imagination to picture him practicing his poses and struts after brushing his teeth or blow-drying his hair. Wednesday night’s performance at Miami’s Studio A was more Bon Jovi-cum-Zoolander than anything else, and many of us had to all but struggle to keep our jaws from dropping or just breaking out in laughter. It was the epitome of cheesiness.

His energy is genuine, though, and you have to give him that. He turned 40 last year, but there’s no way you’d know it from looking at him.  According to Beto, adrenaline is his drug of choice, and he seems extremely youthful, both on stage and in person. But maybe it would be a bit better if he started to act his age, as the whole performance seemed oh so last decade.  The audience–composed mainly of hardcore La Ley fans–ate it all up, though, cheering and shrieking (and throwing bras) throughout. But the highlights of the night for everyone were the La Ley tracks, without a doubt. He closed with “Cenizas del Ayer” (Ashes of Yesterday) and “El Duelo” (Mourning or The Duel), which couldn’t have been more aptly titled in relation to the show in general: a major blast from the past and, well, painful.

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….Painful, but, somehow we all couldn’t stop talking about the show or Beto, and we were lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Rock Estar himself after his show, where he was kind enough to teach us how to do one of his signature moves, which we’ve dubbed “The Pyramid” here at Remezcla.

First of all, the orignal move (albeit a bit fuzzy):

Beto and Remezcla estaffers, doing the pyramid:

Then Beto passed me his water and surprised us all by showing us how he could do The Pyramid behind his back as well.  Genius!