Personnel: Ricardo Arjona (vocals); Alger Erosa (acoustic & electric guitars); Rodrigo Cardenas (acoustic guitar, bass); Fernando Acosta (alto & tenor saxophones, EWI); Victor Patron (piano, keyboards); Waldo Madera (bass,
drums); Armando Montiel (percussion); Elizabeth Meza (background vocals).
Recorded live in Guatamala on December 5, 1998 & from 1998-1999.
Known chiefly as a masterful songwriter, Ricardo Arjona also made a name for himself as a captivating live performer. During the mid- to late '90s, when his career was on the rise, he toured the expanse of Latin America and built a devoted fan base that stretched from the United States all the way down to Argentina. His first live album, Vivo, was recorded in Guatemala City on December 5, 1998, while Arjona was on tour in support of his fourth smash hit album in a row, Sin Da¤os a Terceros (1998). Arjona was born not far from Guatemala City and is a national hero there in Central America's most populous country, so this is something of a homecoming concert. Practically all of Arjona's hit singles to date are performed, and there are also a few rarities that were previously released on Del Otro Lado del Sol (1991), an all but impossible to find album of dubious legitimacy that is notable for including an early version of "Te Conozco." These rarities include "Aqu¡ Estoy," "Historia," and "Desde la Calle 33" (some versions of Vivo also include another rarity, "La Sucursal del Cielo," in the place of the album version of "Desnuda" tacked on as a bonus track). As for the performance itself, it suffers from too much post-production. The crowd noise in particular is a distraction, as it's brought in and out of the mix in a manner that's all too fake. Though Arjona is in good voice, it would be nice to hear him address the Guatemalan crowd and assure us that he's not overdubbing his vocals in the studio. His band does an admirable job of reproducing the elaborate arrangements of these songs, but there's no way these live versions can rival the meticulously crafted album versions, which employ an army of studio musicians. Despite the shortcomings of Vivo, it's nonetheless a valuable album for devoted fans who want to hear the aforementioned rarities and imagine themselves at one of Arjona's concerts. ~ Jason Birchmeier