The lyrics from the first song of Rocio Durcal's sold-out show Saturday at the Universal Amphitheatre summed up the spirit of the evening: "Spain is my life / I die without Madrid / But without Mexico, folks / I cannot live anymore."
Durcal, a veteran actress and singer from Spain, developed an enduring love affair with Mexican music early in her career. On Saturday, she seemed most at home singing rancheras, accompanied by a stunning 13-piece mariachi ensemble.
Dressed in a glittering white gown and shining like a diva, Durcal performed most of the tunes from her recent reunion album with Mexico's Juan Gabriel, the bestseller "Juntos Otra Vez," a two-disc collection that proves Gabriel's songwriting genius and the pair's staying power.
But the standouts were still old favorites such as the pop gem "La Gata Bajo la Lluvia." This tune's warm, old-fashioned tenderness and sticky melody are hard to top. Durcal performed this and other favorites with immaculate grace, almost caressing the lyrics as she sang.
In the opening slot, Argentine pianist Raul Di Blasio presented his famous brand of elevator music, irritatingly punctuated by pseudo-dramatic mannerisms and narcissistic remarks to the audience. So narcissistic, in fact, that he forgot to present the members of his band. A dexterous instrumentalist, he should direct his technical skills toward music with substance.