Concert review

Cuba’s X Alfonso rocks a new generation of exiles


There were lots of ways in which X Alfonso’s performance at Dade County Auditorium departed from previous generations of Cuban concerts in Miami.

There was the guitar-powered rock ’n’ roll instead of percussion and horn-heavy dance music.

There was the sophisticated backdrop of videos and photographs that added another layer of meaning to the songs.

And there was the mostly younger audience roaring for the 40-year-old Alfonso— known in Cuba simply as “Equis” (Spanish for “X”) — a new generation of exiles cheering its own musical hero. (He spent a good half hour after the show greeting and posing for pictures with fans.)

If there was often raging urgency in Alfonso’s music Saturday night, the message in the lyrics and visuals seemed more questioning than pointed. The imagery on the big onstage screen were of crowded Havana streets, crumbling buildings, soccer-playing kids and isolated old people, golden shots of the sea and the city — a gritty, elegiac visual stream that got its own cheers of recognition.

The rebellion and urgency Alfsono sings about in Revoluxion is as much personal as social. Conga Gospel was accompanied by video of a children’s choir, in their Cuban Young Pioneer uniforms, singing with Alfonso that “love can be stronger than you and me … it can change our world.”

Lean and dressed in black, his bare arms covered in tattoos, Alfonso is an electric, charismatic performer, confident and fluidly powerful on bass, percussion and keyboards. His three musicians, also in black, on bass, guitar and drums, were equally virtuoso if not as versatile. They injected a taut undercurrent of funk as well as Afro-Cuban and dizzying jazz rhythms into the tightly focused, rock- and guitar-driven music.

The crowd of about 500 sang along for much of the concert. Some of the biggest cheers of the night came for two songs from the movie Habana Blues, for which Alfonso did the soundtrack, and for an actor from the film, Roberto San Martin, who joined the band onstage. In a scene from the movie shown without music, a young, dreadlocked musician rages, “I’m 28 years old and I’ve never been out of this god-damned country” as the crowd roared in appreciation.

But Alfonso made a hopeful, personal appeal in the warm, anthemic finale, Cambiara (It Will Change), decrying hypocrisy and lies and asking people to look for their own destiny. It seemed to be about Cuba and the young exiles in the audience, but also about any frustrated, idealistic younger generation looking to the future.

Read more Entertainment stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category