“Tonight I dream about fraternity
Tonight I say: one day!
One day my dreams will be reality
Like Bobby said to me
Hey Bobby Marley
Sing something good to me
This world go crazy
It’s an emergency.” –Manu Chao, Mr. Bobby
Never have I seen someone enjoy themselves on stage like Manu Chao and his band. He seems to let the music take him to a place only performers like Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye seem to have found while on stage. I will admit that many the songs sounded a bit similar (reggae/folk with punk/ska breaks), making the concert at times sound like one long Manu Chao song. But I’ll give it to him, the man knows his audience and he knows how to work ‘em.
From a Public Diplomacy perspective, it’s remarkable to see how a Parisian who also claims Barcelona as home can have such a powerful influence in Latin America. While he does have Peruvian heritage, his credibility is enhanced by his songs’ focus on indigenous movements and against foreign exploitation in Latin America. Singing in 4 languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, English), is another way he has been able to win over Latin American publics.
While Manu’s “Third World Solidarity” may not have as large an impact in Euro-centric Argentina, he was able to make time for announcements from two Argentine civil society groups during the concert. He closed out the show by bringing them all back onstage for a 30-minute encore, praising the Pachamama (Mother Earth).
When I was in Uruguay, the owner of my hostel showed me this video of Manu in Cabo Polonio helping to raise awareness about government destruction of some of the houses there; and it must have helped as it was just made into a national park 3 months ago: