- The Washington Times - Friday, March 4, 2005

You don’t have to be fluent in Spanish to sing along with Juanes. At a Wednesday-night concert at DAR Constitution Hall, the Colombian rock star created a range of moods, from intimate to socially conscious to raucous, that had both local and international fans singing along.

Juan Esteban Aristizabal, better known as Juanes, is one of the top Latin pop artists in both the United States and Latin America. His third solo album, “Mi Sangre” (“My Blood”), has owned the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot Latin Albums and dominated Latin radio for the past 21 weeks. Throughout his career, Juanes has been praised for his love songs as well as politically charged works that depict the violence in his homeland of Colombia.

The first three dates — Tampa, San Juan and Washington — of the eagerly anticipated, 40-city “Mi Sangre” tour have all been sellouts.

On Wednesday, Juanes took more than 3,700 fans on an emotional roller coaster, where singing, yelling, crying, jumping and dancing were just part of the ride.

Juanes was backed by a solid yet flexible six-piece band including keyboard, guitars, bass and an array of Latin percussion instruments, and he gave free rein to his extraordinary musical range. The singer was bending and blending musical genres and rhythms, and he treated the crowd to a diverse array of material, including everything from such delicate ballads as the new “Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor” (“I Am Nothing Without Your Love”) to electrifying rockers like “La Camisa Negra” (“The Black Shirt”).

Juanes was framed by a stage set that featured giant video monitors displaying the band’s performance, flashing video clips and colorful mosaics, and he tapped his latest album for many songs, including the hit “Volverte a Ver” (“To See You Again”). With its lyrics conveying the homesickness of soldiers separated from their loved ones, the song has special resonance now for U.S. audiences: “I’d give anything to see you again … I’d give my life and my rifle, my boots and my Bible/That’s why when I’m alone in the trenches … Your eyes are my light and your glow fills my heart/Your love is my hope and my ammunition… That’s why getting back to you is my only mission.”

With the frenzied crowd roaring soccerlike chants in unison, Juanes returned to the stage for roughly 35 minutes. The encore was highlighted by his first live performance of the socially conscious “La Historia de Juan” (“Juan’s story”), a song about an abandoned street child.

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