Animated gritos filled the Sprint Center when Mexico’s coat of arms appeared on a video screen behind Marco Antonio Solis on Friday, but the concert was less a demonstration of national pride than a celebration of the unifying power of music.
Born in Mexico in 1959, Solis is a beloved international icon. In countries with substantial Spanish-speaking populations, his status is commensurate with Lionel Richie or James Taylor. Like those stars, Solis is a master craftsman of mellow songs who has provided an outsized portion of the soundtrack of the lives of multiple generations of fans.
Although his flowing shock of hair is now flecked with gray, Solis’ voice was undiminished throughout his two-hour presentation. He also went step-for- step with four lithe dancers when the spirit moved him. Solis and the dancers were backed by an energetic 16-piece band that was also in constant motion.
In spite of its considerable size, the ensemble lacked a tuba player and an accordionist. When the band touched on regional Mexican sounds like banda and ranchera, consequently, they added a cosmopolitan veneer to the earthy styles. The group was more comfortable giving “El Perdedor” a gentle Caribbean lilt and playing orchestral disco and soft rock.
Solis and the band were at their best on shamelessly romantic and unabashedly melodramatic ballads like “Mi Eterno Amor Secreto.” The audience of more than 8,000 responded to “Necesito Una Compañera,” a song Solis released with his band Los Bukis in 1984, with the sort of participatory rapture associated with airings of Neil Diamond’s "Sweet Caroline.”
True to the title of his “Y La Historia Continua” tour, Solis proved that he’s far from finished with a vital performance that began with an innovative gambit worth emulating. Without any forewarning, he and his band joined Jesse and Joy for the opening act’s final selection. Not only did the absence of a tedious set break save time, the tactic gave the brother and sister act from Mexico City the implied endorsement of Solis.
The Spanish-language duo is worthy of his support. For almost an hour, Jesse and Joy Huerta Uecke played urbane rock in the vein of Fleetwood Mac and the sort of polished contemporary country made in Nashville. Their exuberant outing was a convincing expression of the borderless essence of North American music.