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Live Reviews

Bebel Gilberto + Thievery Corporation
June 26, 2008

By Ernest Barteldes

Central Park Summerstage
New York, NY

It was not a happy moment for Bebel Gilberto at her Central Park Summerstage debut. Entering the stage with a scowl, she seemed to struggle with the lack of space caused by the stage set-up for Thievery Corporation, the evening's headliners. She also seemed a bit drained from the demands of her current tour, which began in Colorado on June 19th and had her performing almost on a daily basis since then.


Backed by her 5-piece band, she started out with “Momento,” from her latest disc of the same name, and after greeting the audience  (“thank you  for finally having me here,” she said with a touch of irony in her voice) she kicked off the dance-inflected “Bring Back The Love,” during which she proceeded to angrily push two monitors to the side, throw the mike stand away from her and barely miss guitarist Pedro Baby with a bar stool originally placed behind her.  Halfway through the tune, she screamed “I need more space to live ” in Portuguese, which drew puzzled glances from fans closer to the photo pit. 


She seemed to be trying to find a better mood, and repeatedly asked the audience to help her make a beautiful show, and leapt around for a few moments as the band turned up the heat with “Aganju,” an Afro-inspired tune composed by Carlinhos Brown for her second self-titled CD.  Gilberto's voice seemed to falter a little during “Sem Contenção” as she improvised a little while inviting the audience to sing the chorus along with her.  The set ended with “Caçada,” a  tune written by her uncle, Chico Buarque, which got some people moving to its forro-laded beat.


After more than 40 minutes of prep time and more technical glitches, Thievery Corporation finally hit the stage, starting out solely with Rob Garza and Eric Hilton commanding their electronic paraphernalia, being later joined by more than a dozen guests, which included a belly dancer, a sitar player and several singers, including Brazil's Seu Jorge and regular contributor Karina Zeviani, who shared a duet on “Exilio,” with a chorus of thousands for a “la-la-la” singalong chorus.


Thievery Corporation went beyond expectations during the hour-plus set, playing a solid mix that included reggae (including “Retaliation,” a song from their upcoming disc), Capoeira-based music, funk, Middle Eastern music and much more, keeping fans who filled Rumsey Playfield to capacity on their feet at all times.


Special guest Seu Jorge pleased his many Brazilian fans (some of whom donned Brazilian flags) with a funky tune that told the story of a Buddhist man who “is a great guy.” The audience also went wild when the group played some of their more recognizable numbers, like “Lebanese