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Live Reviews

June 10, 2008

By Ernest Barteldes

Nokia Theater
New York City

Looking at least ten years younger than his 58 years, Djavan took the stage at Nokia Theater well aware of the need to play the hits to his expat fans, so he pretty much avoided performing less familiar material or songs from Matizes, his latest release (available here as an import or digitally). That was a clever choice – the audience sang along with many of the tunes, bursting into an impromptu choir during “Meu Bem Querer,” a soft ballad featured in one of Brazil's many telenovelas in the 1980s that has since become a staple of his setlists.

He also took the opportunity to perform an emotional cover of Camaron de La Isla's “El Corazon El Sueño” in a jazzy, funk-inflected arrangement that got a warm response from the audience. That was followed by “Adorava Me Ver Como Seu,” one of the few tracks from the new disc featured during the concert.


His backing band, which includes his sons Max (guitar) and Joao Viana (drums) sounded incredibly tight, and they were helped by a flawless sound system that was well-equalized, allowing listeners to hear every nuance of what was going on on-stage.


Djavan got everyone on their feet as he played a snippet of “Flor de Lis,” one of his most popular sambas, and then melded the tune with “Samurai,” a tune he recorded with Stevie Wonder in 1984. Halfway through the song, he began doing some jazz-like scatting as the band traded brief but effective riffs between them. He closed the show with “Sina,” yet another hit from the 80s via Caetano Veloso, returning for an encore that included “Se” and a revved-up version of “Lilas,” which he sang with a choir of thousands.


Djavan is in great form – his voice shows no strain from years of touring, and he has an undying charisma that keeps fans coming back every time he performs Stateside.