Saturday, July 5, 2008
The Fillmore Jackie Gleason Theatre, Miami Beach
Playing to an audience mostly formed by his many Brazilian fans, Gilberto Gil closed his six-city U.S. tour with a two-hour set designed as a journey through the history of his country's music, opening with a samba-inflected tune that ended with a snippet of The Rolling Stone's “Satisfaction,” which set the tone for the rest of the set.
Gil played with the same six-piece band that has followed him throughout the tour; there were no elaborate stage settings expect for a few lights strategically placed between the musicians. His voice was slightly hoarse, clearly a result that came from the strain brought by his previous stops around the country.
“Miami is very close to us in Brazil for many reasons,” Gil said in English as he greeted his fans before going into “Banda Larga Cordel,” the title track from his latest disc of the same name. He then talked about the origins of samba and how enslaved Africans and Native Brazilians came together to create the genre that pretty much identifies Brazil abroad, and exemplified that with “Andar Com Fé,” a popular tune from his ‘80s catalogue and “Formosa,” an obscure tune by guitarist Baden Powell and the poet Vinicius de Morais, two pioneers of the bossa-nova era.
He then took us to his native northeast, showcasing “Chiclete com Banana” (“Chewing Gum and Banana), a tune penned by Jackson do Pandeiro whose lyrics speak of not having a problem with bringing foreign elements to Brazilian music as long as Americans would be willing to do the same with their own sounds.
“Xaxado is another part of the family of Brazilian music,” he explained before he introduced the original “Não Grude Não” (loosely translated as “Don't Be Too Close To Me”), a new song played in the syncopated two-by-two beat that also originates from Brazil's northeast. He shifted gears with “O Oco do Mundo” (“The Hollow of The World”), a rockier tune on some of his country's various social problems and also showcased “Nao Tenho Medo Da Morte,” a gentle ballad about the fact that he does not fear death itself but does fear the moment when the dreaded event comes to happen.
Reggae is highly popular in Brazil much to Gil's credit – he made a hit out of his Portuguese-language version of Bob Marley's “No Woman No Cry” in the mid-70s, opening the doors for Jamaican performers to spread their music in the country. He acknowledged the genre's origins with three covers, Marley's “Everything's Gonna Be Alright,” “The Girl From Ipanema” and George Harrison's "Something."
One of the evening's highlights was “Palco,” a funky tune that gave opportunity for the musicians to showcase their individual talents. By then The Fillmore had become a giant dance floor, something that would continue until the end of the show.
Gil returned to the stage and announced that he would play “three more songs,” and began with “Vamos Fugir” (“Let's Get Away”), a popular reggae that was used as a basis for a sing-along session. He followed that with “Esperando Na Janela” (“Waiting at The Window”) a more recent hit that became a crowd favorite once restaurant performers in Brazil adopted it during the late ‘90s. When the song began, people instantly paired up to dance to the tune's catchy forro beat. He finally closed with a blistering take on “Toda Menina Baiana” (Every Bahian Gil), a tune that expertly blends elements from samba and funk.
Possibly because this was the last concert on the American tour, Gil seemed to put in extra energy to each song; the sound system was perfectly balanced, allowing for everyone to hear every last detail of what was going on. It was a memorable gig, superior to his previous appearance in New York’s Nokia Theater on June 24, where time constraints made for a less enjoyable experience than what I saw in Miami Beach – all the better for his South Florida fans.
- Ernest Barteldes