How to explain Alejandra Guzmán? Take one part Madonna and a slash of Joan Jett and you might come close. Or perhaps Pink as one fan suggested before her show Saturday night at the Honda Center. Possibly. But there really is no great comparison. Combined with her colorful, controversial life, unmistakable voice and Mexican entertainment dynasty pedigree, there’s no one quite like “La Guzmán.”
As another fan simply put it on Instagram “SHE IS A FUCKIN’ ROCKSTAR!!!!”
Guzmán takes a special place in the male-dominated pantheon of rock en Español. Possessing an unmistakable alto with an edgy, love-it-or-hate-it growl, she can now boast of a career spanning more than 30 years.
Most of her Guzmán’s music falls in a kind of ’80s/’90s straight rock and power ballads. Her deep voice has a pretty great range, with the 51-year-old singer imbuing enough edge and authenticity to offset compositions that could otherwise sound dated.
No stranger to controversy, of late she has been embroiled in a rumored love triangle feud involving her twentysomething daughter Frida Sofía. And while this controversy has sucked up a lot of air in Mexican pop culture media, Ms. Guzman wasn’t about to let anything mess with her mojo on this tour.
Her return to Anaheim comes as a stop on her “La Guzmán 2019” tour in support of her latest album La Guzmán Live at the Roxy. The venue was comfortably full although noticeably not sold out—a bit surprising for someone so iconic.
Shortly after 8 p.m., a giant screen projected a futuristic animated version of Guzmán with her seven-piece band assembling in the dark. She emerged like a sparkly sci-fi crow wearing a black feathered shoulder piece, thigh-high glittery black boots, black gloves and a bedazzled leotard. Two long Ariana Grande pigtails cascaded over her shoulders. Throughout, the outfit changes were a good portion of the fun and visually divided the show into distinct sections.
She kicked off with “Mírala, Míralo” from her 1993 album Libre. The synth-laden tune is saved from being an ’80s time capsule by its darkish lyrics and Guzmán’s force of personality. Completely comfortable on stage and naturally theatrical, she wills her throwback tunes into the present day.
After launching into a full arena-rock mode with the deliciously dark “Mala Hierba,” La Guzmán switched gears during the heart of the show. Changing into a Valentinoesque red tulle and feathered ensemble with a large gothic crown perched atop her head, she sang a bluesy “Flor de Papel”—one of her earliest songs.
Charming moments came when interacting with the public, whether with her brassy asides or when riding atop the shoulders of a security guard while passing out roses and grasping hands or when gifting a lucky fan with her crown at the end of “Yo te Esperaba,” a moving ode to her daughter before she was born as well as a fan favorite.
A metallic bodysuit wardrobe change indicated a shift into the final phase of the two-hour concert, which comprised tracks off of her Live at The Roxy album, which is comprised mostly of covers by her greatest influences. And really, this is where she shined. She proved she was born to sing rock on covers of such classics as “No Voy en Tren” by Charly García and “Oye Mi Amor” by Mana.
In meta fashion, she performed covers of 1950s-era rock covers that launched the career of her father, rock pioneer Enrique Guzmán. It’s in her influences that Alejandra Guzmán finds her strength, adding depth and grit to great songwriting. But it’s with her audience that she finds her soul.
Behind the theatrical regalia and tabloid gossip is one of the greatest female rock singers in any language. Her audiences can see beyond the grit and glitter: This is a true reina de corazones who knows her subjects well, leading them home somewhere between arena-sized pizazz and the intimacy of cabaret.
With Guzmȧn, perhaps the best is yet to come. It would be cool to see her collaborate more with rock legends or to see what a producer like Rick Rubin could come up with. In any case, I don’t think she’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Alejandra Guzmȧn continues her La Guzmán Tour 2019 in Mexico and South America through November. According to a tour date list posted on her official Instagram, she will make one stop in Los Angeles on Oct. 30. Check www.aleguzman.com for more info.