Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Andy Summers plays Rio

The history of collaborations between Latin and particularly Anglo-Saxon musicians goes way back to Carmen Miranda (she-of–the-fruit-headress), but it took off in the late 50s and early 60s with the advent of bossa nova and the incomparable Tom Jobim. In the early 70s London became the temporary home of ‘Tropicalia’ exiles Gilbeto Gill and Caetano Veloso, both influencing and being influenced by the exploding rock culture. And look out for interesting 80’s collaborations between Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music) and Sergio Dias (Os Mutantes) on 1990´s album, ´Mato Grosso, and Manzanera produced the highly acclaimed album Severino from the Brazilian rock band Os Paralamas do Sucesso, which included a participation by Brian May. In more modern times rock’s aristocracy have turned up on Brazilian shores seeking inspiration, with many taking up part-time residence; amongst them Jimmy Page, the late Jim Capaldi, Wayne Hussey (The Mission), and Andy Summers of The Police.

A couple of nights ago I ventured out to catch the last in concert with one of Brazil’s greatest living bossa nova exponents, Roberto Mensecal. The gig was in a comparatively new venue here; the placa de mauai, a renovated warehouse in the somewhat threatening area of Rio’s docks, Unexpectedly, they were joined by the fantastic Marcus Valle and other well-know local musicians.

This was bossa-rock fusion of the most interesting kind. Imagine, if you will, ‘Roxanne’ and ‘Message in a Bottle’ done in bossa-nova style with just Summers on guitar accompanying vocalist Cris Delanno. And then imagine Summers as part of a three-man guitar line up with Valle and Menescal, performing bossa classics like Tom Jobin’s ‘Garota de Ipanema’ (Girl from Ipanema) and Chega de Saudade, Menescal’s own classic, ’Barquinho’ (Little Boat), and Valle’s Samba de Verao (Summer Samba).

Summers struggled with the heat and with his Portuguese but not with the music. His passion for the style, and respect of the history, was evident. The locals’ passion for The Police was equally evidenced by enthusiastic singing, and despite their being a relatively small crowd of approximately 250 souls, he was given a rousing ovation when the whole band encored with Every Breath you Take.

Actually, it’s one of the advantages of this town; you get to see bands and musicians cheaper and in much more intimate surroundings than you’d ever do ‘at home’. Worth the airfare, I’d say!

Bossa Nova affectionados, or simply the curios, will find it worthwhile investing in the DVD that this concert launched; ‘United Kingdom of Ipanema, Roberto Menescal convida Andy Summers’.

Monday, February 14, 2011

ROCK´n´ GOOOOOAL! Even Rio celebrates Rooney

The return of footballing superstar, Ronaldinho, from Barcelona to Flamengo (the Man U of Brasil) has dominated the headlines here recently in ‘Beckam-esque’ fashion. However, the sports pages for Sunday 13th January are full of Wayne Rooney’s wonder goal that proved the difference between Manchester United and Manchester City yesterday.

Perhaps the biggest praise is that of Lance, the daily football paper (yes, there is a paper dedicated solely to the beautiful game). The game reviewer plunders the lyrics of Jorge Ben’s ‘Filho Maravilha’ to find his superlatives. The original is in praise of Flamego´s 70´s wizz João Batista de Sales. Jorge celebrates a particular goal as being ´foi um gol de classe´ (was a goal of class), ´celestial em gooool´, a celestial goal, straight off the sweet-spot , a ´gol de placa´.

Jorge Ben has been one of Brazil’s greatest and most popular musicians for at least 50 years, writing in the process some of the country’s instantly recognizable songs. Infectious is perhaps the best word to describe his style. Two bars in at any concert and everybody is on their feet, and if possible on the stage with him. And I do mean two bars and everybody, as I once witnessed a bemused set of security men discover at London’s Barbican. Rod Stewart ‘nicked’ one of his toons, covering it inadequately as ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’.

Only in Brazil could a musician get away with making a complete album dedicated to football and its heroes – and it being an accepted classic. Rooney will probably remain blissfully unaware of the importance of this particular accolade. Que pena.

Check out the original on youtube:

Monday, February 7, 2011

RIP Gary Moore

Fifty-eight is not old. It´s the prime of life. And Gary Moore was definitely in the prime of his life with, we would have hoped, many years of performance and recording ahead. It just goes to show that you should ´catch ´em while you can´.

I had the opportunity of seeing Moore play a few times. The last was about three years ago in Oxford. I may have first seen him as a member of Skid Row or Thin Lizzy. Time takes the edge off the memory and you forget the individual line-up of bands seen through a ´high´, whether natural or chemically induced.

I do, however, vividly remember having a mild ´punch-up´ with Gary Moore in Manchester circa 1973. At my instigation, we´d hired his power trio band of the time to play at our college football team´s end-of-season, money-raiser. ´Disco, live band, late bar!´, as our homemade posters proclaimed. We were later to agree that the addition of a live band has been both unneccessary and a mistake.

Having arrived late, Moore and fellow members had to tune up and check their PA with the venue already half-full of people drinking and waiting for the disco to begin. Moore was patently ´out of his head´ and his tune-up consisted of his trade-marked feedback, blasted through speakers at the highest volume. It was truly excruitiating. With complaints building it fell to me to approach the stage area and shout at Moore to turn it down a bit. I was ignored at first but eventually, following an increasingly heated exchange, got them to leave the stage.

Scene two followed ninety minutes or so later when I had to go their ´dressing room´ to give them their ´on stage in 10´ warning. Their dressing room doubled as our college magazine editorial and print room, with our much valued print machine in one corner. To my absolute horror and fury I entered the room to find Moore, by now totally away with the fairies, pissing over the machine.

I´m afraid I lost it. Blows were exchanged. Luckily, we were pulled apart by wiser heads and, although late, the band went on.

Moore had his revenge. After what can only be called an hour of ear-bursting white noise, with people leaving in droves and an increasing portion demanding money back, Gary Moore and his electricity supply had to be parted.

It was a ruined evening, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. I felt doubly bad not only having been the one to suggest hiring the band, but feeling personally let down by someone I held in high esteem. It took me many years before I could forget this episode and appreciate Gary Moore the musician again. About 35 in fact...

I am fortunate in having seem him at Oxford and to have a more positive memory of an undoubtedly great blues and rock guitar player.