On April 19th Paul McCartney will perform live in El Campín, Bogotá. This follows concerts from Britney Spears, Aerosmith, Morrissey and more, but is still somewhat unprecedented. Paul McCartney, as I have no doubt you already know, is an absolute living legend. And he’s playing here, in Bogotá.
To think just a decade ago people fretted about whether to travel to Colombia at all. Things were improving, but trouble lingered and the turbulent 90s formed vivid memories in the minds of most Colombians. A place like Bogotá would have seemed firmly off limits, and few could have imagined things changing.
But they did change, and they changed rapidly. Last year, for example, almost 2 million foreigners visited Colombia. That’s compared to 70 thousand in 1997. Numbers are expected to double this year. Bogotá is fast becoming an international, cosmopolitan city after years of being monocultural, thanks to the influx of foreigners investing, travelling and simply falling in love with the Colombian way of life.
Sure, back home in the UK I just nip down the road to see Macca play whenever I want. “Hi Paul,” I say. He smiles, nods, and carries on riffing. For many people living here in Bogotá, however, seeing Paul McCartney in their hometown is something they would have never imagined doing. Traditionally Colombia has been a country that’s skipped over by major artists, the South American scene dominated by Buenos Aires, Lima, Rio, Santiago and Sao Paulo. Regardless of how great these cities are, owing to transport costs between the countries of this continent, many people in Colombia couldn’t afford to travel so far to see their favourite artists perform. Now, bit by bit, that’s changing.
JL of the Colombia Travel Blog himself has noted that right now in Bogotá, “it feels like Peru 15 years ago. Terrorism was defeated, the economy blossomed and Lima became one of the major cities for concerts. The local music scene itself exploded, too.” For sure, in Colombia right now local artists such as Bomba Estereo and ChocQuibTown are gaining recognition around the world, while smaller bands such as Systema Solar and Velandia Y La Tigre are pushing the boundaries even further. The excitement and optimism in the air is palpable.
Events such as Paul McCartney playing in Bogotá might only last one night – even just a few hours – but they’re important to us living here because they demonstrate to the world what we already know: Colombia is waiting with open arms for the world to discover. That artists as big as one of The Beatles are willing to come here says a lot
Now I’ve just got to wait for The Rolling Stones and David Bowie…