Tribute concert to John Lennon at the National Theater of Cuba. Photo: María Lucía Expósito.
Tribute concert to John Lennon at the National Theater of Cuba. Photo: María Lucía Expósito.

The (de) seasoning of Sergeant Pimienta

4 minutos / Víctor Cárdenas

14.12.2020 / Reviews

On December 8, in the Sala Avellaneda of the National Theater, a tribute was paid to one of the most important artists of popular music: John Lennon. The show was called 40x30x20 by Lennon and, although it seems like a recharge offer from the outside, or the numbers that came out in the charade, that is not what the title is about. The explanation: the 40th anniversary of the physical disappearance of the Liverpool man; the thirtieth of the concert (spontaneous) that various musicians —among whom were Carlos Varela, Síntesis, and Santiago Feliú— gave him in the park from 17 between 6 and 8, in El Vedado; and the twenty of the statue that José Ramón Villa Soberón dedicated to him —and that names that park today—, make up the name of the show that summons us today.

As the statue itself has been the victim of the theft of its famous glasses, many activities are constantly governmentalized to steal the prominence of its initiators, in order to clean up the errors of the past. It happened before and it happens now. Cuba has an unpayable musical debt with the four from Liverpool, despite the ignorance and censorship that Anglo-Saxon music suffered in the first years of the triumph of the Revolution. Furthermore, the influence of the Fab Four on artists such as Leo Brouwer, Silvio Rodríguez and Juan Formell is not a secret.

For any rock fan it was almost a commitment to go to this concert. I went, and several things caught my attention. In the first place, the sponsorship and production of the event: the Cuban Rock Agency did not appear for all that; which would not be entirely suspicious if we did not take into account the fact that John Lennon was a "rocker" and the only representative agency of the genre on the Island is not mentioned among the participants. 

Tribute concert to John Lennon at the National Theater of Cuba. Photo: María Lucía Expósito.

Tribute concert to John Lennon at the National Theater of Cuba. Photo: María Lucía Expósito.

But that is another story. Let's get down to the fact: Juanito Camacho is one of the most knowledgeable journalists and broadcasters on rock, so he hosted and moderated the show. With his interventions, he provided data on the themes to be interpreted in a cordial way, although at times it felt somewhat extensive due to the long bumps in the assembly and the technical problems of the audio (which lasted longer than the concert itself). In the end, some instruments were out of tune. In the repertoire, although quite successful, the arrangements lacked imagination, with a few exceptions. The performances of bands such as Cocktail, Tracks, Eddie Escobar, Mezcla, Ernesto Blanco and his group, and Síntesis stood out. 

The point is that nobody really knew what was happening, if it was a tribute to The Beatles, if it was only John Lennon, if it was a political act, if it was an audience rehearsal. I went out to smoke three times. My impression, perhaps, was not the most fortunate. I have seen very good tributes to The Beatles made in other countries - on video, of course - but ours could be done better. I know it and the musicians know it. They are good instrumentalists, they have incredible voices, they have scenic projection, they speak English, they have a tremendous job acquired in the Yellow Submarine; but a show has to be seen as a whole. Concerts are small individual pieces, pieces of a puzzle where each tile has to be well placed. I am not displeased, I am dissatisfied. 

Lennon was a lifelong unhappy fighter. I think of him, I imagine. If you don't dream big, in good taste and in the revolutionary even with few resources, we will be doomed to Strawberry Fields Forever.

Víctor Cárdenas

Músico, compositor Humorista, dice él... Papá de dos gatas, fiel. Hijo de Aleida y cantor.

    More posts

    Leave a comment

    Ariel Diaz

    14.12.2020

    Muy bueno bro. «Happynes is the warm gun «

    Ariel Diaz

    14.12.2020

    Muy bueno bro. «Happynes is a warm gun «

    Graciela

    14.12.2020

    The Beatles fue la banda sonora de mi infancia, me habría gustado estar en ese concierto homenaje. Gracias, Víctor, por escribir esto. Excelente artículo.

    Wendy Carmenate

    14.12.2020

    Muy bien Visti, gracias por estar y comentarnos con sinceridad de amigo a todos los que no pudimos presenciarlo. Muchas cosas buenas


    More in Reviews

    Help support our magazine

    • Donate •

    Become a Patreon