José Luis Rodríguez “El Puma” successfully passed his first big test of fire on Saturday when he sang for more than two hours, in his first concert after having undergone a double lung transplant a year and a half ago and “returning from death” .
“Thanks to Christ who brought me to death,” the 76-year-old Venezuelan said at the beginning of his recital at the iconic Fillmore Theater in Miami Beach, before an audience that received him standing with thunderous applause and to which the singer presented the medical team and nurses who treated him, present in the room.
“Thanks to the donor and the family of the donor, which I still do not know,” continued El Puma, who had also invited three “transplanted” guests to the concert. “We met when we were dying,” he explained.
Faced with an almost full room, the Venezuelan began with the artillery guns and made the cut to interpret his iconic song “Owner of you.”
“This is not a normal show,” El Puma warned the public. “It is a conversation of gratitude,” he added, in direct reference to the name of the tour that he has started tonight and that will continue in Latin America, as well as his next album, even without a publication date.
As he was feeling comfortable, he grew a smile, took off his jacket and tie, while showing humor as he threw songs such as “I’m going to conquer you” and “I have the right to be happy”, with which he showed that his health problems did not touch the tone of his voice and they hardly diminished his vocal power.
“These shoes I have,” he said, showing off his sports shoes, “it’s not that El Puma wants it when he was young, it’s that the transplanted ones swell our feet and with these shoes you do not realize it, and neither do I.” he explained.
Accompanied by a band of 10 musicians, with whom he had been rehearsing for two months, Rodríguez performed Venezuelan classics, such as the joropo “Amalia Rosa” and the Christmas bagpipes “La moza” during a recital in which, although there were feints of dancing, the most part offered it sitting on a stool, from where he performed hits such as “Silencio”, “Por si volvieras” and “I’m going to conquer you”.
Very critical of the government led by Nicolás Maduro, he did not dodge the political situation in Venezuela and at one point shouted “Maduro”, before which the public answered the already known “Pussy of your mother”.
“We are in the final stage, they are going to go, walking or with their feet forward, but they are going to leave,” said the singer.
Among the public were his wife Carolina and his youngest daughter Genesis Rodríguez, who traveled with his fiance from Los Angeles, where he lives, to accompany his father.
“Thanks to my beloved wife Carolina, I love her more than ever,” said El Puma. “My daughter Genesis and her boyfriend Vincent, treat her well,” he added.
More heated from the second half of the concert, Rodriguez paid a small tribute to Mexico, with songs like “Échame a la culpa”, “Piel Canela”, and “Los amigos”.
He sang some of the songs that will be part of his next album, “Agradecido”, an acoustic production that will rely mainly on Afro-Caribbean percussion, and that will include dance versions of songs like “Ojos negros” and “Mochilón”.
The night did not ignore its beginnings and El Puma approached with luminosity “Juana Bonita”, one of his greatest successes with the tropical music orchestra Billo’s Caracas Boys, where he became famous in Venezuela, as well as the song “Mi amigo El Puma”, that gave rise to his nickname.
The interpreter then received on stage the Spanish singer-songwriter José María Purrón, with whom he sang “Culpable soy yo”.
“We are also grateful to you, Puma, we know what you have fought to be here,” said the Spaniard.
The singer, who underwent a double lung transplant on December 17, 2017, revealed that the first time he felt he was short of breath was in the year 2000. Soon after he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibromatosis, whose only cure is the transplant.
The Puma urged those present to become organ donors. “Each person can save 10,” he said.
“Pavo Real” and “hold hands”, two of his greatest continental successes, marked the closing of a concert that reflected that, with his two lungs transplanted, El Puma still roars with fullness.
“I am very happy now, I do not know about you, but I am very happy,” he said.