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Buena Vista Social Club at the Royal Albert Hall

14 October 2009

Last night I managed to blag tickets to the "very sold out" Buena Vista Social Club show at the Royal Albert Hall. I'm a massive fan of the infamous Cuban group and their timeless big band sound, so I was very excited…
The line-up had many of the original members and despite being in their 70s/80s they still packed a mighty punch and had the whole place in rapturous bouts of applause until they shuffled offstage at the end of their encore.

In terms of musicianship – unsurprisingly after playing together for decades – they were incredibly tight and totally relaxed with each other and their instruments and at ease onstage.
Furiously loud with clashing mambo rhythms, screeching trumpets, crashing bongos and cha cha cha-ing backing vocalists, they played with the vigour, speed and enthusiasm of BVSC’s golden age.
The only disappointment was from a record-perfect performance – hardly a legitimate criticism, I know – which meant there were few extra touches or special versions thrown into the performance, making it more like a live listening party. Also, because the whole venue was seated, the crowd consisted of world-music-listening middle class Guardian-readers politely bobbing around in their seats. I wanted to DANCE.
They closed the show with 'Dos Gardenias' which finally got everyone up on their feet... I'm smug I managed to see them and got a good-for-the-soul deafeningly loud salsa hit from the grandfathers of salsa. VIVA BVSC!

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