The mist grazed across the backs of the crowd. It was uncharacteristically cold and frosty in San Jose, Costa Rica that evening; the wind at times violent outside the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium but that did not stop the thousands of fans from squeezing into every available seat.
Then, there was a hush of excitement. Their eager eyes fixiated in anticipation of something. To them, The Alejandro Sanz Paradise Tour concert was more than just the latest pop band to sweep through Costa Rica on yet another dry tour. No, to them this man's voice, what he represented was so much more. His salty, raspy, sexy voice melted women's hearts, his fans both gay and straight, men and women, black and brown all welcomed by him -- were bonded by their love for him and his music. Their voices were raw from screaming at the top of their lungs as he played the first chord of song. The crowd erupted in deafening screams and whistles.
Explosive lights, digital visual spectaculars on projectors in front, on the sides and behind him, accompanied by a storm of pulsating music that made his radio versions sound like a wind-up toy and multiple encores later -- Sanz's fans left the stadium with their fill like that fat uncle at Thanksgiving who just can't get enough.
Like any concert, there were the wealthy VIPs and local celebrities positioned in the seats close enough to feel Sanz's sweat. The machine that is Sanz, kept the tickets as reasonable as possible. But for some of the Ticos who attended, who barely make in a month what those in the U.S. make in a week, had saved up their money for months in hopes of catching a glimpse of him, their idol. No matter how high up in the bleachers their seats may have been, or how long it had taken for them to scrape together enough to see him, it was all worth it.
Sanz's concert in San Jose was packed with them; the people's dreams, their hopes, their desires, their heartache captivated so well in the lyrics of his songs. They knew the pain he spoke of, they knew the struggle, they knew the joys of first love and the agony of heartbreak when will power ain't enough to keep a relationship going. They knew his words as if they had written them themselves.
I was fortunate enough to be smack in the center of it all, views of all angles with my guest. Then, we were whisked through the sea of fans backstage by security afterward, always treated as if we were the most important people in the building. As other VIPs and key press waited, biting their nails in hopes to meet the Spanish legend, we tried to remain calm.
Then, his kind-hearted publicist gave me the gentle smile and nod of approval for me to get up before any of the other VIPs.
"He's ready." she said. I knew not what to expect, my heart pattering in excitement and I quickened my pace to catch up with her. Like most entertainment reporters, I've met my fair share of celebrities, but there was something special about Sanz. I fell in love with his music years ago and this night, I was there to attend more than just another writing gig, but rather as a fan as well.
His publicist opened the door to his dressing room, where a sparse group of his closest handlers spoke in hush tones.
"It will just be a moment," she whispered almost as excited as me. And then he came, Alejandro Sanz himself; out from I don't know where but bearing a smile that could have lit a dark Christmas night.
"Jeff!" he said, greeting me with a handshake and hug, "We finally meet in person." We had spoken on the phone when he was in Spain a few months back and with the no doubt hundreds of interviews he had done since then, I wasn't sure if he would remember me. I've met everyone from Will Smith to Oprah, so I was surprised to find myself tongue-tied at times.
Yet, down-to-earth, warm-hearted, welcoming -- those are just a few words I would use to describe my experience meeting him as we joked about how bad my phone service was the last time we spoke, how difficult it was for me to learn Spanish in my new home of Costa Rica and how my sister-in-law threatened to never speak to me again if we didn't get his autograph. He then practically took me by the hand into the next room, where his band was relaxing and joking after their phenomenal concert.
"Hey, everybody this is Jeff!" he said as if they were anticipating me and should know who I was already.
They greeted me like an old friend, each shaking my hand with a full smile reminding me of a band of beautiful carnies bonded by their years of rough worldwide tours, blood, sweat and tears.
You can tell a lot about a person by whom they surround themselves with. His band, his publicists, his personal assistant -- all just like him, warm, friendly, inviting, exuding positivity. It is no wonder this man, this modern day musical legend, means so much to the people who love him and his music.
If you haven't had the privilege of catching his worldwide tour yet, it's well worth the trip.
Follow Jeff Rivera on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrjeffrivera