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Live Reviews

photo by Renata Baluk

Paralamas do Sucesso
April 28, 2006

By Ernest Barteldes
Palacio Europa
Newark New Jersey

Paralamas do Sucesso entered the stage at the famed Newark ballroom in full Brazilian fashion - with a considerable delay, which is common in these parts. The audience, who was entertained by a DJ while waiting for the concert to begin was not disappointed, though. This was the band's first U.S. visit since their sold-out tour (which stopped in New York) two years ago. The group energetically came on performing tunes from their 20-year songbook and material from their new album, Hoje (Today), barely pausing between songs.

The only moment in which there was a break was when a string on Herbert Vianna's custom-made Red Special (a guitar designed by Queen guitarist Brian May) broke. He promptly apologized while roadies assisted him in replacing the instrument. Seconds later, the heat was back on, and throughout the evening, it stayed that way, even when they played slower songs.

Os Paralamas could have been jaded after so many years of touring, but what you see is quite the opposite - the band members really appeared to be enjoying themselves as they entertained their fans.

Herbert Vianna played some interesting guitar licks in between his famously out-of-tune vocals (which he remedies in the studio), and drummer Joao Barone showed why he is considered one of Brazil's best rock drummers with his high-energy, polished technique. Bassist Bi Ribeiro completed the rhythm section very effectively - something you specially noticed when the group played in the classic power trio format.

Backing the classic format was a group of supporting musicians , who enhance songs such as the mellow "Lanterna dos Afogados" (Drowned Men's Light) and the ska-influenced "Meu Erro" (My Mistake), which is one of the band's earliest hits. Joao Fera (keys), Eduardo Lyra (percussion), Monteiro Jr. (sax) and Bidu Cordeiro (trombone and supporting vocals) have been recording and touring with Os Paralamas for a number of years now, but have never been officially added to the roster.

Paralamas do Sucesso faced tragedy five years ago when Vianna had a light aeroplane accident that claimed his wife's life and left him paralyzed below the waist. With the support of his bandmates, friends and family, he overcame his injuries and resumed his career. The band has since released two Cds with new material and a live celebration DVD that featured collaborators past and present, such as Djavan and Nando Reis (who also co-wrote material for the band's current release).

Apart from the time the show began, I felt that the equipment was a bit too loud for the venue. I watched the band from the back of the room so I could actually listen to the music. The crowd didn't seem to care much, as they danced and sang along to the songs - some of which that have already become standards in the Brazilian pop realm.