The Spanish rock star left fans elated after two hours of hits in Anaheim.
Attempting to shift from fronting a successful rock group to embarking on a career alone can be a risky move, especially when the performer in question radicalizes his established sound. But for the charismatic Enrique Bunbury, it was the right call to have made more than a decade ago.
After a dozen years as the voice of the immensely popular Spanish band Héroes del Silencio, the 45-year-old Zaragoza native has had the spotlight all to himself since dropping his electro-enhanced solo debut in 1997. Since then the attention paid him has grown intensely, as evidenced by the response he received for nearly two hours Monday night in O.C. and will garner again tonight at the Palladium.
Bunbury made his presence immediately felt with a fiery red ensemble - from his striking hat, resembling a tejana, to more minor but no less clever accoutrements, like his skull-encrusted microphone stand - enamoring the crowd at City National Grove of Anaheim with his fervor and sleek moves, often posing like a bullfighter.
Nothing, however, compared to his soulful voice and the sentiment he put forth while keeping the performance playful with his six-member group.
"Buenas noches, Anaheim, Californianos, Californianas, Mexicanos, Mexicanas!" he declared, greeting the crowd and shaking hands between songs like "De Todo el Mundo" and "Sí."
Bunbury's eclectic mixes of funky, upbeat, cumbia-leaning songs and slower melancholy melodies, all infused with a dash of rock, were clear favorites with this audience. He may have described his repertoire best when he referred to it as "canciones cantineras, canciones revolucionarias (y) canciones románticas," or "bar songs, revolutionary songs (and) romantic songs."
Among the night's most memorable moments were when he sang the line "Me siento en casa, América" ("I feel at home, America") from "El Extranjero," a strong shout-out to his local fan base, and also when he poured out his feelings during the heartbreaker "El Rescate," a song admittedly pushed aside during this tour but brought out for fans this night. They returned the favor by singing along to many of his tunes.
"Enrique! Enrique! Enrique!" the crowd shouted, at one point enticing him to stop briefly and soak in the moment. They weren't ready to see him leave, nor was Bunbury ready to depart, delighting devotees with a four-song encore.
"Anaheim, California, rock 'n' roll people!" he shouted. "¡No se olviden de nosotros!" he continued, holding his hat up high in gratitude, assuring his admirers that they won't soon be forgotten, either.
Bunbury performs again tonight, Nov. 20, at the Hollywood Palladium. Tickets are $34