San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Mel, Sting, Jay Kay Make the Scene

Mad Max is back – or, at least, was back in Costa Rica earlier this month when the star of that 1979 film, actor and director Mel Gibson, visited the country.

According to the daily Al Día, Gibson was said to be visiting the Gulf of Papagayo, on the northern Pacific coast, and Arenal Volcano, in northcentral Costa Rica, the week of April 1, and apparently stayed at the Four Seasons on the PapagayoPeninsula. Gibson, 50, was last seen here in November 2004, when he was scouting movie locations and visited the Foreign Relations Ministry, causing a stir among ministry employees.

Another return visitor this month was superstar Sting, whose yoga antics in the Southern Zone provided fodder for our last column (TT, March 10).

He came back with a bang when he headlined day two of the Festival Imperial in La Guácima, northwest of San José (TT, April 7). He entered the backstage area, discreetly blending in – yet unmistakable – among his black-clad entourage, just a few minutes before the show began, and started playing with little fanfare.

Of course, that didn’t prevent one overheated fan from fainting dramatically right in front of the stage, prompting event workers to drag her away. Ever cool in a simple gray T-shirt and black pinstripes, the former Police front man, 54, arrested the crowd with his powerful pipes, a few flirtatious glances and efforts at Spanish (much appreciated by the crowd, and full of dramatically rolled rrrrs).

Costa Rican favorite Malpaís also dazzled fans at the festival with new and old material. Backstage following the show, bassist Jaime Gamboa said the festival represented “a radical change… (people) will refer to a ‘before’ and ‘after’ these concerts,” because they served to raise the profile of Costa Rica’s music scene. He said appreciation of local music is increasing both inside and outside the country, and urged radios to begin following that trend by playing Costa Rican tunes, not just imported music.

The day before, the pyrotechnics at 10 p.m. weren’t the only fireworks at the festival. When the managers of Argentinean heartthrob Diego Torres and British funk sensation Jamiroquai arrived at the same time during an afternoon sound check, they couldn’t resolve who would go first and fell to blows, according to the daily La Nación.

Torres’ manager was hit on the nose and forehead. Passions remained high, although regarding a different conflict, later that night when Jay Kay, Jamiroquai’s lead singer, used his time onstage to criticize U.S. President George W. Bush, accusing the leader of profiting from war.


Comments are closed.