08 October, 2008

Cesaria Evora with Madeleine Peyroux

Friday, Oct 3, 2008
Cesaria Evora and Madeleine Peyroux
Carnegie Hall

I play Cesaria Evora quite often and have most of her albums. My favorite is "Cafe Atlantico". Truth to tell, one album is enough; great as they are, there is not much variation in mood (just like another favorite, Madredeus).

However, ever since I watched a DVD of hers that can be gotten at dirt cheap price in SEZ, I was not sure I'd want to watch her in concert. The barefoot diva from Cape Verde off the coast of Africa usually just stands nearly immobile, swaying just slightly. Some of you might have heard her before as she had appeared in the Arts Festival.

When I saw she had as guest artist Madeleine Peyroux I jumped, and splurged for a good ticket.

It was a strange concert and they made strange partners. There was absolutely NO interaction between the two. Peyroux was just the OPENING act, which in fact was a full 45 minutes long. Peyroux appeared with her own band (piano, guitar, bass, drums), a really swinging one, and sang a lot of the songs from all her albums. Well, there weren't that many. The program note refers to "Half the Perfect World" as the "new" album!

The crowd really came to see Evora, so it was a tough act for Peyroux. She was in a white shirt and powder-blue suit, a guitar strutted across her chest. She was calm and deadpan. As she played on the guitar, she sang into a standing mike, and her movements meant not all words were intelligible. Nonetheless, after a little warm-up, she delivered a sterling performance with even greater focus and nuance than on her albums. She is the real thing, and the crowd warmed by the half's end.

Cesaria Evora came on with her bigger band to thunderous reception. I need not had feared. The atmosphere was good and the band cracking. Even if she was largely idle, the audience swayed in their seats and some in the aisles. Much more enjoyable than the DVD ideed. Home theater is over-rated for sure. She did her usual acts, including smoking. Of course the concert eneded with "Besame Mucho".

A good if incongruent double-bill.

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