Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon


Gilberto Gil at Symphony Center

Posted in Music by bourdaghs on the April 3rd, 2010

Legendary Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil performed an intimate, touching concert for a couple thousand of his best friends last night at Symphony Center here in Chicago. Performing an all-acoustic set accompanied by his son Bem Gil on guitar (and occasionally tambourine) and cellist Jaques Morelenbaum (whom I know mainly from his previous work with Sakamoto Ryuichi), he gave us an uplifting evening of gently inspiring music–including several audience sing-alongs in Portuguese. The Brazilian contingent was out in force.

Dressed entirely in white, Gil played a couple of what he called “family songs.” “Das Duas Uma” (“From Two, One”) was composed last year for his daughter’s wedding. She was the last of his five daughters to get married, Gil announced, and the only one to ask him to compose a song for the occasion. He thought and thought about what he should say to the bride and groom on this momentous occasion, and what he came up with was, “good luck!” The second, “Quatro Coisas” (“Four Things”), was a love song for his wife of thirty years, the theme of which he announced as “no escape!”

I particularly like Gil’s revolutionary late 1960s recordings with Os Mutantes and Caetano Veloso, so a highlight of the show for me was an elegant rendition of “Panis Et Circenses.” Gil’s long-standing interest in the Beatles surfaced at one point, when he slipped a musical quotation from “Penny Lane” into the coda for one of the songs. Also memorable were “Nightingale” and “Não Tenho Medo da Morte,” the latter performed by Gil alone on the stage, tapping out the rhythm on the body of his guitar and barely touching the strings.

All in all a lovely evening, one that magically coincided with the arrival of spring in Chicago. Here’s video from earlier dates in the current tour:

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