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POP MUSIC REVIEWS : Guerra Gives Fans Satisfying Show

July 13, 1993|ENRIQUE LOPETEGUI

Through his six albums, Dominican singer-composer Juan Luis Guerra has brought the colorful Afro-Caribbean culture that nurtures his art to a worldwide audience.

But Guerra isn't a tool of the Dominican tourist bureau. The two video screens at the Greek Theatre, where he headlined Sunday night, also showed his country's ugly side, including images of people leaving the island in rafts, as he describes in his song "Visa for a Dream." That's what Guerra's music is all about: an irresistible rhythmic blend of jazz, R&B, rock and Dominican music, social commentary on Latin Americans and moving love songs.

Guerra, accompanied by a 13-piece band and three singers, started with his latest hit "El Costo de la Vida" ("The Cost of Life"), a biting but gentle critique on the economic situation of Latin America. This set the mood for an evening in which Guerra hit a fever pitch early and never let up.

But despite the inevitable merengue partying and the Guerra - mania screams, the most captivating part of the show was the intimate bachata set, which had couples dancing in the aisles to this sensuous type of Caribbean bolero .

The night's surprise was Guerra's decision not to include the merengue -gospel "La Gallera" and the salsa-flavored "Si Saliera Petroleo" ("If We Had Petroleum"), two of his best songs. But Guerra's fanaticos were too busy enjoying the show to realize the mysterious omissions. Only someone with Guerra's appeal and rich body of work could get away with that.

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