Click on the pictures for a better view.
Pictures by John Yuen, courtesy of Pepper Communications.
March 4, 2004
the veritable king (along with Caetano Veloso) of tropicália
shows up in Asia for a historic first performance, the response
has to be appropriately celebratory and the March 4 performance
at the Concert Hall, Esplanade was just that (besides
which, the Brazilians know how to create a carnival atmosphere).
Gilberto Gil and his entourage of percussionists, backing vocalists
(one of whom was his daughter) and multi-instrumentalists graced
the audience with a seamless 90-minute set that swept through reggae,
samba and baiao. Gil, bopping and dancing with the easy grace of
the veteran that he is, never forgot historical context, paying
homage along the way to Bob Marley as well as Antonio Carlos Jobim
and Luiz Gonzaga.
the night with Andar Com Fe (To Walk With Faith), Gil pretty effortlessly
wove his way into reggae with his popular rendition of Nao Chore
Mais (No Woman No Cry) and Kaya N'gan Daya both from his
2002 tribute to Marley.
The set list was otherwise an even spread from his immense output
of the last 30-over years, with beautiful full-band renditions of
A Novidade, A Paz and Drao, which were all given a much more intimate,
acoustic interpretation in 1994's critically acclaimed Acoustic
If Gil and Veloso have been immensely influential in the creation
of tropicália, much of their movement in the '60s was energised
by the desire to introduce baiao to Brazil's younger audiences,
so the tradition wouldn't be swallowed up by pop culture monotony.
So Gonzaga the father of the north-eastern musical form baiao
was the spirit behind some of the most idiosyncratically
Brazilian songs of the night and Gil, chatting between songs, mused
out aloud that samba and baiao were pretty much neck-and-neck in
the degree of importance they hold for Brazilian music and history.
Drawing from the film Eu Tu Eles (Me You Them) for which Gil had
re-worked many of Gonzaga's songs, some of his backing band formed
into the traditional tripartite with the triangle-accordion-marching
drum to pull together the danceable songs Esperando Na Janela and
ceremoniously deafening roar for an encore had Gil and company back
on stage weaving Aquele Abraco with the social critique of Nos Barracos
Da Cidade (Barracos) (from the 1985 20-year anniversary album
Dia Dorim Noite Neon) and wrapping up with two more songs.
it wasn't merely a night of music and Gil quite obviously delighted
in his audience's effortless enthusiasm.
The night was filled with anecdotes, from stories detailing the
history of the different forms of music and his obvious love for
experimenting and melding styles to create wondrous results.
That Gil's performance was on the same night as David Bowie's lent
for a humorous moment: a story detailing how the Singapore Airlines
air hostess had asked him if he was flying in to perform with Bowie.
The audience's unabashed participation in call-and-response choruses
led to genuine promises that with such a reception for his debut
performance in $ingapore, he would inevitably return. He will definitely
have a keen audience looking for a second opportunity to watch him
bring on the magic.