The Austin Chronicle

ACL Live Shots

Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, October 3, 2008, Music

Manu Chao

Friday, Sept. 26, Zilker Park

ACL often seems like an endless mass of shirtless white dudes, but the crowd in front of the AT&T stage waiting for Manu Chao's headlining performance had a distinctly international feel. Preceded by soccer stadium chants of "Ole, ole, ole" and punctuated by an encore tribute to Argentine futbolista Diego Maradona, the 90-minute pachanga wed punk rock and reggae in a blissful union not seen since rude boys ran roughshod over London. The spastic paranoia of last year's La Radiolina sparked another rare stateside appearance by the Parisian-born Spaniard and his sixpiece guerilla unit, with punk grunts of "Oi, oi, oi" bumping into the distinctly Marley woe-yo-yo-yo's of "Mr. Bobby." Immigrant anthems "Clandestino" and "Welcome to Tijuana" boiled over with flamenco guitar, the nylon strings of the tattered acoustic axe damn near snapping on "Desaparecido" before a single mariachi trumpet tempered the blaze. Holding court at the exact moment of the presidential debate, Manu Chao aimed the scathing "Politik Kills" at George Bush while his shouts of "Next station is hope!" rang like a prediction. By the time it was "Rainin in Paradize," clenched fists dotted the sky from Lamar to MoPac. The band was genuinely moved by the warm reception during its four-day, three-show stint in Austin. "We will always come back to Austin," promised the tiny trilingual troubadour. "Thank you so much for the hospitality."

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