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POP MUSIC REVIEW

POP : Astrid Hadad Takes Powerful, Witty Look at Mexico's Soul

February 13, 1996|ENRIQUE LOPETEGUI

"Holy Father, please forgive the Cubans just as we forgave the Marines," intoned Mexican performance artist Astrid Hadad in her "Prayer to the Holy Father" (none other than Uncle Sam), one of the many highlights of her nonstop tour de force at LunaPark on Sunday.

In the first of her two evenings at the club, Hadad mixed material from "Ay!," her ranchera parody album released in the United States by Rounder Records, and her latest, the Afro-Cuban-rooted "Corazon Sangrante" (Bleeding Heart), for an unpredictable and devastatingly funny two-hour commentary on Mexico's bloody past, chaotic present and uncertain future.

Hadad, who changed costumes 14 times, excelled in all the areas she explored. She's a versatile, powerful singer and a first-class physical comedian, and her writing has plenty of true wit while avoiding the usual cliches associated with the so-called "Mexican identity." (OK, she did mention Frida Kahlo once.)

Hadad's backing group, Los Tarzanes, was not merely a support band, but an indispensable ingredient in this bilingual postmodern cabaret. The five top-notch musicians could play virtually anything--a traditional ranchera (with an unusual touch of clarinet) that suddenly becomes rock 'n' roll, a bolero that turns into mambo. They also have the personality that is indispensable for anyone who wants to keep up with Hadad onstage.

Simultaneously sweet and aggressive, Hadad simply looked capable of anything.

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