Maná goes beyond music to connect with audience

Luis Gonzalez, Reporter

Despite the late star time, Spanish pop-rock band Maná put on a show that moved beyond their live music. The Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico based band nearly sold out Don Haskins Center through their biggest hits and drove home a message of peace, love and political involvement.

Fans of the multiple Grammy Award-winning band spent most of the concert on their feet as Fher, Alex, Juan and Sergio, the original members of the band, played songs that have made them one of the most influential Latin American bands of the last 30 years.

Maná is known for its social awareness and political involvement. After a lengthy delay, Mana started the night off with “Manda una Senal,” “Oye Mi Amor,” “Corazon Espinado” and “Labios Compartidos,” before making its first social statement of the night.

Before interpreting “En Donde Jugaran los Ninos,” or “Where Will the Children Play,” lead singer Fher spoke to the audience about the importance of taking care of the environment. He criticized those politicians that refuse to accept global warming and went on to sing about the dangerous consequences of mistreating the earth, all the while his fellow bandmates illustrated the message by wearing fluorescent green gas masks.

Once the message was delivered, Mana kept the focus on the audience by inviting a fan on stage to sing Mi Verdad, a song they recorded alongside Shakira.

Throughout the concert every member of Mana was highlighted. As the leader of the band, Fher was always center stage, but the other three all had their moments in the spotlight as well.

Guitarist Sergio Ballin had solos in multiple songs in which he was able to deviate from the band’s pop rock sound and provide a more metallic flavor. Drummer Alex Gonzalez sang one of Mana’s signature songs in their Me Vale” album and followed it up with a drum solo that lasted at least 10 minutes. The platform on which the drum set was located turned so that he could face every side of the stage and at one point rose into the air to the fans’ delight.

In perhaps the most intimate part of the concert, Maná went into a medley of acoustic renditions of songs such as “Vivir Sin Aire,” “Te Llore un Rio” and the late Juan Gabriel’s “Se Me Olvido Otra Vez.” With each song, Fher provided a little story to go with it, either about why or how the songs were written or recorded. Once again a fan got to go on stage and interact with the band.

Before Maná “closed” its show, it was time for their biggest message of the night. Fher encouraged everybody in attendance to exercise the power to vote while showing love and cultivating peace as they sang “Get up, stand up, Latinos for your rights.”

Maná left the stage, but no one in the audience was fooled. Keeping their seats, fans pulled out their cell phones and lit up the Don Haskins Center as they called for an encore.

Answering the call, Maná stuck around for a few extra minutes to walk around the stage and waved, shook hands and thanked all those in attendance, capping off a night in which four of Latin America’s biggest stars made an effort to connect with every single one of their fans in something beyond music.

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected]