With each "Hasta siempre Rivas!!" (Rivas being the town in the suburbs of Madrid where he played), Manu Chao and his merry band left the stage followed by the shouts and howls of the thousands in attendance. Four times they returned, stretching out a concert that I thought would be a little over an hour into a three hour marathon of amazing music: the funky sounds of when cultures intertwine, borders drop, and people come together. When we finally left the show, in the midst of a surprising May cold snap that had us shivering in the Spanish night, we were exhausted: legs cramping, vocal cords shattered, shoulders hurting from holding off the hordes. But even now I can still hear Manu shouting "Oy yo yo yoooo!", imploring us to keep up with his fierce energy.
Manu for me was a top two show I had to see, right up there with the indomitable Outkast. Manu's music was a big reason for me wanting to learn Spanish and, in some ways, for moving to Spain. Although he still hasn't made quite the same name for himself in the US, Manu's kaleidoscopic mix of different sounds have made him a legend in Latin American and many European countries.
For a taste of the show, check out Manu's live album from 2009, Baionarena!