Sunday, July 8, 2007

Manu Chao at Bluesfest

Not surprisingly, Manu Chao put on a good show last night at Ottawa Bluesfest. From the moment his band started playing and Chao stepped on stage, you knew it was going to be a memorable concert under the clouds and dampness.

With the backdrop of the Parliament Buildings and city’s skyline, Chao kept the crowd moving for nearly two hours. Chao understands well how to keep the energy in a crowd flowing, he seldom broke between songs, keeping the hungry dance fanatics smiling until the end. Well not quite until the very end, they did manage to play a ridiculous amount of encores, maybe 4 in total, enough to keep the crowd a bit annoyed in the final 10 minutes.

However, through his diverse set- Chao sang in at least 4 languages-he exuded tremendous confidence, willing the crowd to join him for the ride. He’s truly a great performer. The fact that his music is deeply infused with messages of global peace and social justice, much like the music of Sarah Harmer and Micheal Franti, made for an amazing night of socially-conscious music and dance.

While Chao’s performance was good, that of the Bluesfest sound and lighting crew was seriously lacking. What’s with not being able to hear background vocals at Bluesfest? On several occasions, Chao’s extremely energetic lead guitarist and bassist were yelling vocals between Chao’s own, but could scarcely be heard at all. It was so bad that a text-messager posted "A little bit of background vocals would be nice" on the giant screen for all to see. It sure beat all the other obscenities being posted.

In addition to this unfortunate mishap, the lead guitarist performed a number of truly awe-inspiring solos, and yet, every time there was no light spotting him. In fact, he was left in the dark in the center of the stage, as if he was in the back room being punished for bad behaviour. Bring out the lights on such wicked stuff, Manu Chao wasn’t the only person on stage worthy of some light.

Besides these technical faux-pas, the concert was a success. The thousands of people streaming out of the park afterwards were commenting very favourably on Chao’s groovy mix. Most were surprised that he sounded so punkish live, but were still happy to be able to dance outdoors and see a key figure in world music.


Phil said...

Salut élanvital! Excellent blogue! J'étais à Manu Chao mais tellement saoul que je le redécouvre en te lisant. Merci

élan vital said...

merci bcp. c'était un bon show, mais pas comme hier soir avec George Clinton!