Print this Page

Live Reviews

Jose Gonzales and Seu Jorge

July 5, 2006

By Ernest Barteldes
Central Park Summerstage
New York New York

A  larger-than-expected crowd showed up at Rumsey Playfield last Sunday to check out Seu Jorge, the Brazilian-born singer who found a steady following after his appearances on The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and City Of God. There were many Brazilians in attendance as well, but few were wearing the famed yellow jersey,  since their national soccer team had just been defeated by France in the World Cup a day before.


One of the opening acts was José Gonzales, who got on stage accompanied solely by his acoustic guitar, which was a bold move considering that the crowd was expecting a more electric setting on that Sunday afternoon. He opened with "Stayed In The Shade", showing great guitar skills. Gonzales is clearly influenced by Feliciano, and that becomes evident in "Lovestain", which had an extended instrumental intro.


Gonzales brings influence from folk and classical music in his playing, and is quite creative on his  instrument. Fans seemed to appreciate his set, but after a while the songs felt a little repetitive as he recycled riffs in between the words.  Maybe this kind of show would have been more appropriate in a concert hall or a smaller venue, but he seemed to pull it off nevertheless.


A few minutes after Gonzales left the stage, Seu Jorge, dressed in a Bob Marley t-shirt and jeans and accompanied by a simple group – bass, cavaquinho, drums, percussion and his own acoustic guitar began proceedings with his satire on Brazil's current breast enhancement surgery craze, "Mania de Peitão" (Big Boobs Mania). He then greeted the crowd both in English and Portuguese, and went on to the second number.


One of the evening's highlights was his cover of the Jorge Benjor bossa-nova anthem "Mas Que Nada", which moved the crowd and got them singing along. That was followed by a pandeiro showcase by members of his band (which got very good applause). He returned to stage and performed two of the songs that made him a household name. The first was "Ziggy Stardust", with lyrics which have nothing to do with the original, and that was followed by "Rebel Rebel", which became a song about a breakup.


He continued with tunes from his solo album, "Cru" (Wrasse). One of the most poignant was "Pretinha", a song that speaks of the hardships of living in São Paulo while flat broke and unable to make a phone call to his lover on the other side of town.


One has to note  how  Seu Jorge has evolved as a live performer since his first U.S. appearances a couple of years back. He is c