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Charly García: A Resurrected Charly Celebrates His Career

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"Now I am going to sing a song about something I am still doing," said Charly García before singing the legendary mega hit "Demoliendo Hoteles" (Trashing Hotels) during a magnificent concert at Best BuyTheater last Wednesday.

It was time for the songwriter to come back to New York City. His return to the Big Apple after ten years is part of the 60x60 tour and launch of his latest masterpiece '60 x 60', a 3 CD/3 DVD box collection that showcases three performances at the prestigious Gran Rex theatre in his native Buenos Aires.

This new production contains 60 meticulously remixed songs, a fine remake of his old tunes, and a trip through his spectacular forty-year career. After decades of drug addiction, Charly is now clean and proud of hisnew release, which not-so-coincidentally celebrates his 60th birthday.

Gifted with perfect pitch - an innate ability that not even most musicians have - there is no doubt that Charly is one of the most influential 'rock en español' musicians and composers in Latino
America.

For years Charly was an unfettered drug abuser and has been in and out of psychiatric clinics. It is almost a miracle that he is still alive. Once he even jumped from the ninth floor of a building: "I was on the balcony... like in trance, thinking, thinking, thinking and then all of a sudden, oops!, I was in the air. The funny part was that it did not hurt," he recalled recently on Univision.

The new Charly is now a complete different version of the rebellious rock and roll wild-child he was during his previous life. Famous for his constant scandals; his controversial comments; not showing up for his own concerts and leaving stadium crowds waiting; drugs; or for - literally - destroying hotels. Now, after several rehab treatments, he seems to be at peace with himself.

Charly García and The Prostitution, his band, took over the stage in the heart of Times Square, pleasing followers of all generations singing old hits like "Rezo por Vos" (I Pray for You), "Cerca de La Revolución" (Close to The Revolution), "Dinosaurio" (Dinosaur) and "Yendo de la Cama al Living" (Going from Bed to the Living Room). The audience, visibly charged with emotion, soared with excitement singing along.

"No Llores por Mi Argentina" (an original - not a cover) was one of the last songs of the night that drove the audience into a frenzy before he said goodbye: "it was a pleasure to play for you, thank you very much, we got to the end of the list, goodbye Buenos Aires, New York and the rest of the world, music has no language."

Although his voice lacks the power it had years ago, it still retains the emotion, you could see people with tears in their eyes. It is a love affair: his music and his fans all over Latin America have a connection and a reverence for each other. So, it does not matter if Charly is thin or fat, messed up or clean, young or old, his music is so pure, and so unique that it keeps enthralling his devotees as he sings, plays the piano and keyboards.

In spite of all his controversies, his shows are always sold out. At the Best Buy Theater, the legend performed with fellow Argentine and singer Hilda Lizarazu and a nine-member orchestra playing various instruments: two powerful guitars, two keyboards, a bass, two violins, a xylophone, a modern cello, drums and a bandoneon to reproduce his original versions.

This was nothing like one of his last New York performances that I covered at Club New York in 2002, where his erratic behavior had left fans wanting for more. He stealthily would do a line on stage and then he would sink his head into an ice bucket to get refreshed. Yet with only two musicians at the time, Charly still managed to deliver a few acclaimed hits, jumping back and forth from his keyboard to guitar.

No more crazed lifestyle, make-up or painted nails. However, on stage this mythical rock hero is still a true showman with his two-color moustache who engages the crowd with his typical sense of humor. The 60 x 60 tour is a deep look into his past and will continue with performances in Miami, Chile, Perú and three concerts at famed Luna Park in Buenos Aires.

When he was three years old, Charly started experimenting with a toy piano and did not take long to surprise his mother with his ability to compose. At the age of twelve he received the degree of music teacher. Deeply influenced by The Beatles (as well as Chopin and Beethoven), Charly has talked about the British quartet all his life: "when I heard The Beatles it blew my mind," he said on Argentine TV, "it was like classical music, they were young and composed their own songs. That is why I am here today and not in a conservatory teaching music."

So, Charly if you want to keep trashing hotels (as happened numerous times during his periods of withdrawal and psychosis) it is ok, we forgive you. After all, how many Charlies are there in this world?