14 October 2009

Buena Vista Social Club at the Royal Albert Hall

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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5 comments

Lluviaschick said...

lucky you. I went to a concert of them in NYC but only because my dad invited me and insisted on me going and at the end I really enjoy the concert and still keep listening to them. have you seen Wim Wenders documentary?

Mr Christopher said...

I wasn't gutted by the record-perfect thing at all – if anything, I thought that using fewer instruments (esp. noticed in Chan Chan) and improvs in solos meant that there was quite a decent level of variation. Though a much extended, 12" remix of El Cuarto del Tula wouldn't have gone amiss either....

Struggler said...

Sounds like a great evening. I love the Albert Hall but I can see how it might encourage slightly formal behaviour amongst the audience!

So Stylistic said...

Aw man I didn't even hear that they were in town - It'll be that rock a.k.a work that I have living under! what a night that would have been - I would have DANCED!

Emma Louise Layla said...

No I haven't seen the Wim Wenders documentary, but I heard it's good. Christmas list!

Crikey Mr Christopher, you know your shiznit. I still think for a band who've played together for a long time, there was room for more improvisation.

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