Monday, August 15, 2011

Bebel Gilberto at City Winery

Photo credit: Henrique Gendre for Bebel Gilberto All in One promo

I generally don’t mind going to Brazilian shows, bars, and festivals by myself, because I’ll inevitably meet interesting people once I’m there. But Bebel Gilberto’s show at City Winery on August 3rd made me reconsider just how awesome it is to do what I love unaccompanied. Bebel Gilberto, daughter of Bossa Nova legend João Gilberto and singer Miúcha, is best known for her love-centric lyrics put to a mix of Brazilian bossa nova and electronic music. I’m usually not one for love songs, in English at least, but Bebel’s voice and lyrics cast a spell on me, turning me, in that moment, from a fiercely independent, 24-year-old, swinging single, to a mushy mess longing for love.

“Life could be so nice if one day I find someone to samba through life with me,” is the chorus of “So Nice” on Bebel’s third album, Tanto Tempo. There are innumerable songs that talk about the universal longing to find a life partner, but I especially appreciate all the implications of Bebel’s samba metaphor: dancing samba at a party or Carnaval, living samba, with an everlastingly upbeat and optimist outlook, and doing samba- if they do the horizontal tango in Argentina, Brazilians must do the horizontal samba, right?
So Nice (Summer Samba) by Bebel Gilberto

Introducing “Sem Contenção” (without restraint), Bebel instructed the audience, like an expert lecturer on love. “This is a song about love in your heart. Never think about love in your head. Always in your heart!” The fast guitar strumming, repetating lyrics, and almost panting nature of this track is just like the voice inside your head, catching you the minute you start to hold back your emotions and telling you instead to let go of your insecurities and doubts and enjoy this moment of romance.
Sem Contenção by Bebel Gilberto

But beyond being a poet and singer, Bebel is a fabulous performer, the physical manifestation of a free spirit. At City Winery, she was delightfully uncensored in her speech and movements on stage. During a silly moment, she joked about wanting champagne despite the large selection of wine. “I'm waiting for my champagne. Today is a bubble day... a Bebel day!" Her true display of uninhibitedness came when she admitted to lying down on stage at least one during every show. At City Winery, she sang from the supine position twice! Even though I couldn’t see Bebel when she got horizontal, I could still hear her seductive voice and appreciated her ease in front of the crowd, even to the point where she treated the stage as if it were her private bedroom.

Bebel will perform a total of five shows this month at City Winery, each with a special guest. On August 3rd, none other than Brazilian rapper and hip hop artist Marcelo D2 joined Bebel on the small stage. The duo performed the two songs which I had seen them sing together a week before at Summer Stage, Mercelo's "Minha Missão" and Bebel's "Close Your Eyes." I especially love the catchiness of "Close Your Eyes," and it's also a rare treat to hear Marcelo sing in English. At City Winery, the pair performed for the first time ever Chica Chica Boom Chic, a Carmen Miranda cover from Bebel's most recent album, All in One, adapted for the part of Marcelo. Neither artist held back during this conga inspired tune.  Bebel kicking her legs in the air while using Marcelo for support and eventually pulled him down onto the floor with her for a sing and a snuggle. 
"Close Your Eyes" - Bebel Gilberto & Marcelo D2

This Wednesday, August 17th, Bebel will be performing with Zé Luis Olivera, acclaimed Brazilian composer and producer. Zé worked with Bebel as her musical director during the launch of her Grammy nominated album, Tanto Tempo and recently arranged and produced a song with her for the animated film, Rio. Tickets for all of Bebel's City Winery performances, on August 17th, 24th, 27th, and 31st, are available through the City Winery website.

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