Photographer: Robert Hacman.
In August of 2013, Juan "El Divo de Juárez" Gabriel returned to el Palacio de Bellas Artes, one of Mexico's premier performing venues. In 1990, this was the site where he recorded his first major live retrospective with his own band, Mariachi Arriba Juarez, and the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional, as part of his 25th anniversary celebration. This concert was even larger in scope. Still riding the charts 40 years after his debut album, Gabriel returned to the venerable hall accompanied by his friend, the great Romani Spanish singer Isabel Pantoja, the International Orchestra of Arts and Choir, and his group Mariachi de Mi Tierra. Originally released as a three-disc audio and video package, Fonovisa decided to release the two audio discs individually. This second volume contains substantially fewer tracks than its predecessor -- ten to volume one's 19 -- but the quality is equally high and the performance time is almost equal given the long workouts on the roiling disc of "Vienes o Voy," "Así Fue" (a long romantic norteño duet with Pantoja), and the rock & roll closer and band introduction on "Déjame Vivir." Some of the other highlights include the killer cumbia "Cuando Quieras Déjame," which opens the set and possesses a dramatic horn arrangement. And few fans would want to live without the dramatic revisioning of "Luna," with the choir, tympani, strings, and cello all dynamically framing Gabriel's tender vocal. If you haven't purchased the triple-disc, the audio volumes are well worth your time and money. ~ Thom Jurek
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