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  • Writer's pictureIgnacio Gomez

Enrique Bunbury, Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City, 8 June 2024

Updated: Jun 17

Unless you’ve lived in Spain, Latin America or Germany, you’ve probably have never heard of the most famous Spanish rock singer Enrique Ortiz de Landázuri Izarduy, aka Enrique Bunbury. “Bunbury” as he is known, took the name from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. It symbolises the practice of creating an elaborate deception that allows one to misbehave while seeming to uphold the very highest standards of duty and responsibility.

 

I got into his music back in the early 90’s when he was the lead singer of Heroes del Silencio, a Zaragoza rock band that shot unexpectedly to international fame in the 80s. There is a very good Netflix documentary called Héroes: Silencio y rock & roll if you have a spare 90 minutes that goes through their rise.

 


Bunbury wanted to try new sounds and styles, so in 1996 he went solo and I have always liked all of his records and can listen to the albums without skipping a song. I’ve seen him many times before, whether it was the House of Blues on Sunset Strip in LA, a reunion tour with Heroes del Silencio in 2007 in Mexico City and even at the Roxy in Camden a few years ago.

 

Bunbury was in poor health a few years ago and had even retired from doing concerts, but as his health improved, he decided to do 10 concerts between 2023 and 2024.

 

I had forgotten what an experience going to a concert in Mexico City was. I went with four friends and getting there is always unexpected fun. On the drive, there are a lot of nice people offering street parking if you give them your keys (in case they need to move the car) and some money. You’d be surprised how many people have no problem with this. As we got closer to the venue Google Maps was saying we only had 5 minutes to go (it took us more than 45 to do the last 5 minutes) and it even sent us the wrong way! When we tried to get into the venue parking the traffic officer frustratingly told us that our 45 minute 500m final drive was in vain. But this is Mexico and there is always a way, there is a reason we are Mexi(can). We drove off arguing what to do next, should we get a taxi, should we park at a friends house 5 miles up the road, should we go around for another hour and hope for the best? About 600 metres from the entrance we got rejected from on the main avenue, we saw a row of cars parked in a dirt space kind of illegally between the pavement and the venue wall. You could tell this wasn’t normal parking but we saw two spots left, once my friend confirmed his car was insured we were able to get the last space for some money and even got to keep the keys.



The concert was being held at the same place the F1 happens every year. On our way we were a bit concerned as it had been raining all evening and this wasn’t exactly going to be a covered gig. Walking to the concert we saw all the bootleg merch, where you would be set back £4 for a mug, t-shirt or a flag with Bunbury’s face on it. I’m sure my neighbour whom I go to plenty of gigs with would love those prices, but I don’t think it would sit well that the money isn’t going to the band, although I think Bunbury has enough money so he might not mind.

 

Walking towards the gig, my friends were pleasantly surprised how big his fan base was. According to the papers, his concert at the “Autódromo” had over 66,000 people. The ticket price wasn’t too bad either, £80 for the A section and there was a B section for about £40. There was even a drone hovering around showing on the big screens how massive the concert was.

 


There was no support band and as with most concerts in Mexico, they had advertised an 8:30 PM start, however I kind of expected it to start at 9 and finish at 11, which it did. We tend to be late to these things and love to blame the traffic in Mexico City. We ended up getting to our standing spot at 8:20 PM. As with many concerts in Mexico you have people with beer, popcorn, hotdogs, pizza, tequila/whisky/vodka shots or cocktails walking through the crowd throughout the concert, so no need leave your spot to queue in the middle of the concert.

 

There were a few recorded songs playing to get the crowd going and I was very happy when Love Will Tear Us Apart blasted through the speakers, the crowd doesn’t sing along to it like in the UK, but I did. Between 8:30-9.oo, there are scattered chants of “Enrique, Enrique, Enrique”, the lights are turned off a few times to start getting the crowd excited, but it’s not until bang on 9 an announcement comes and asks us to please not use your phone and enjoy the music. I think most of the 66,000 fans ignored the plea throughout the concert. When Bunbury came on just a few minutes after 9.00, it was glorious - no rain, plenty of beer and we were stood right in front of the sound mixers (where you usually get the best sound at concerts).


My only gripe with the setlist was that it was the same exact setlist of his last concert in Colombia last year. I always like variety, even if it’s just a few songs. However as is typical of his concerts, the songs don’t sound the same as the album, he always manages to add something special so you get an authentic experience and don’t feel like you’re just playing the album.

 

Bunbury kicks off with Nuestros mundos no obedecen tus mapas (which means “our worlds don’t obey your maps”), from his recent album Greta Garbo which was released a little over a year ago. Starting with a song from a new album is very brave, however the 66,000 Mexicans sang along loudly and passionately as if it was an old classic.



Next up we have Cuna de Caín (Cain’s Cot), Despierta (Wake Up) and Hombre de acción (Man Of Action). The great tunes from his recent albums which really gets the crowd going and singing along with him. I see four women behind me who know every lyric to the songs, all of them singing together as friends with plenty of passion.

 

After Hombre de acción, Bunbury stops for a quick breather and thanks the crowd for attending, the crowd goes wild as he is very loved in Mexico. I’m going to go see him again in a few week in Madrid and that venue WiZink Center which has a capacity of just over 17,000.

 

Another song from his latest album comes in the next set of songs Invulnerables (Invulnerable). The songs kicks off with an upbeat tune and Bunbury singing, then  Álvaro Suite a Sevillian from the band Los Santos Inocentes (The Innocent Saints) which has supported Bunbury since 2006 gives the song it’s special concert touch. Álvaro goes off on a 45 second guitar solo that you can’t really appreciate in the album, the crowd goes absolutely wild.




At the next break, Bunbury tells the crowd how grateful he is to see them again, as he thought he would never play again. He also tells us how life takes unexpected turns and he is grateful he is that people can still enjoy his art, hints at future concerts and I immediately get excited at an Oasis like possibility of a farewell tour with Heroes del Silencio (the one you know won’t happen, but there is always a fools hope).

 

After Alaska, another song from his recent album, I knew El Extranjero (The Foreigner) was next as I was looking at the Colombia setlist. I turn to my friend and confidently say, my song is next, my friend looks thoughtfully confused. Once the first note hit, he smiled and nodded in approval. It’s his first classic tune from his early solo career from the album Pequeño (Small One). It’s the first jumpy song of the night, not only is the whole crowd singing every last word, but everyone was jumping like crazy during the song. I’ve always identified with the song as I’ve felt like a foreigner even in my hometown of Tijuana, a city which I absolutely love.

 


Bunbury knows how to handle a large crowd as we were over excited with El Extranjero and us older folk needed a bit of a rest. Even though he’s been going since the late 80’s, I look around and most of the crowd wasn’t probably born until he became a solo artist in the late 90’s, I was definitely pulling the average up. Bunbury gives us a bit a of a rest with Desaparecer (Disappear) and gets things going again with La Actitud Correcta (The Right Attitude). We are now past the halfway point of the concert and my friends turns to me and says “doesn’t seem like he needs a break, I haven’t even seen him drink a sip of water”!

 

Bunbury usually likes to talk about politics, equality and fairness. I can definitely see him prioritising different things when he found out he might not be able to tour anymore (don’t we all). He takes a moment, instead of saying something that was prepared, he just says that even though we know that the world is going to “la mierda” (shit), we can always bet on rock and roll. This kicks off the crowd as everybody know that his first song of the night from Héroes del Silencio is next with Apuesta por el rock ‘n’ roll (Betting on Rock ‘n’ Roll). The unmistakable first note bass intro gets the crowd excited. They jump to the instrumental solos of the song, the bass, guitar, piano, trumpet and violin, when the instruments with the deep lyrics sing, the crowd sing their hearts out.

 


Again, after a very jumpy song, Bunbury goes for two relaxed songs in Porque las cosas cambian (Because Things Change) and then De todo el mundo (Everyone’s), which goes well as we are already at almost deep into the evening and it’s around 10:15.

 

When I ask people who grew up in Germany in the early 90’s if they know Heroes del Silencio, they say no. When I play the guitar intro to next song in the concert, Entre dos tierras (Between Two Worlds), they always smile and say “yes I know exactly who you are talking about”. I’ve been told it was even a #1 hit there, although I’ve never been able to verify this. Álvaro Suite does a superb guitar intro to the song, however it is never really perfect unless you hear it from Juan Valdivia the original lead guitar from Heroes del Silencio. The way Juan used to start the song with an angry face, concentration and a cigarette in his mouth is the very definition of the Spanish rock era. So, you can imagine that when we heard that first note and echo effect how they reacted. This song was the climax of the concert as it’s the most well-known song of the Heroes del Silencio era. I saw a few beers being thrown and the crowd go into a frenzy. Even my friends who didn’t know much of Bunbury’s solo stuff got into the song.



Bunbury finished the set with another crowd pleaser  (Yes) and Lady Blue, classic solo hits, performed to different instruments and rhythms. After Lady Blue, the band went for a very quick break before a five song encore set. I don’t think they were gone for more than 2 or 3 minutes before they came back. I initially thought it might be because there was a curfew, but I then remember I was in Mexico and timings tend to be more of a guideline.  During the whole concert Bunbury just seemed like he was on fire and wanted to give the crowd a night to remember and I could tell the crowd really appreciated it.

 

Bunbury played one final Heroes del Silencio song with Maldito Duende (Dammed Elf), initially most fans were confused to which song it was, even though I had my Colombia setlist cheat sheet, I was even doubting myself, but then we all knew it was Maldito Duende. He changed the song slightly and modernised the song for the concert as this was written in the late 80s and even though it’s a classic, when you hear the old version it just feels slightly outdated.

 


Bunbury knows how to give an ending to a concert ever since he came out with Y al final (In The End) in his album Flamingos. It’s a very romantic song about pleading saying goodbye to someone who doesn’t want to see you anymore and once they’ve hesitantly agreed, you hold them tight and dance a final tight waltz. I was looking around and everybody who went with their significant other was smiling and holding them tight. At the end of the song, we had a big fireworks display and Bunbury and the rest of the band bowing together to say goodbye.

 


Once the lights came one, we all started leaving, Stand by Me by John Lennon was played on the loudspeakers, which I found as the perfect way to finish my Mexico City trip as I was surrounded by my four close friends walking back to what we hoped was a complete car (and yes it was still there without a noticeable scratch). Living on the other side of the Atlantic, I never know if I’ll ever see my friends together like this again as life sometimes gets in the way, but if it was, a wonderful memory it will be.


Editor – I need to confess, I only have a passing knowledge of Bunbury, but my friend Ignacio is a fan, and it's great to have his first guest contribution coming all the way from Mexico City!


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