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Live Reviews

Gilberto Gil
June 24, 2008

By Ernest Barteldes

Nokia Theater
New York City

Playing to a crowd mostly composed of expatriate Brazilians, Gilberto Gil took the stage at The Nokia Theater in New York City backed by his tight six-piece Broadband Band, which includes his son Bem Gil on guitar and daughter Preta Gil on vocals. He chose to perform more recent compositions (many from his latest CD, Banda Larga Cordel) instead of digging into his Tropicalia-era catalogue. Gil immediately got everyone moving with “Andar Com Fé,” an early ‘80s hit with a reggae backbeat. He also paid tribute to his bossa-nova musical ancestors by playing “Formosa” an obscure Baden Powell/Vinicius de Moraes composition included on his new disc, and as he kicked off the first chords from “The Girl From Ipanema,” he was accompanied by a choir of four thousand strong voices.  He only looked back at his Tropicalia years once, when he played “Chiclete Com Banana,” a tune from the landmark 1968 psychedelic-fusion disc.


Xaxado is another part of the family of Brazilian music,” he explained to the crowd before he introduced the original  “Não Grude Não, a  new tune played in the syncopated two by two beat that originates from Northeastern Brazil, and also showcased “Nao Tenho Medo Da Morte,” in which he beautifully sings about the fact that he does not fear death itself but does fear the moment when the dreaded event comes to happen. He also played Bob Marley's “Everything Is Gonna Be Alright,” a song that was well received by the reggae-loving audience (who owes much to Gil – it was he who introduced the beat to Brazil in the 70s with his remake of “No Woman No Cry”).


Another great moment from his set came with “Esperando Na Janela,” a more recent hit that became a crowd favorite once it was adopted by restaurant performers in Brazil during the late 90s. When the song began, people instantly paired up to dance to the tune's catchy forro (yet another of the many musical genres from the Brazilian Northeast). “Palco,” a Gil composition made famous by A Cor Do Som in 1981 was also well received.


Gil closed the show with “Que Deus Deu,” a samba-funk tune that is almost obligatory during his shows.  As the set ended and the theater's lights were turned on, fans walked away with smiles on their faces – after a long hiatus from full band performances from Gilberto Gil (he did a solo performance last year), this high-energy set was a treat to the eyes and ears.