by Brett Sigurdson, Burlington Writers Workshop
Review of Gilberto Gil at the Flynn on April 20, 2015.
It was a cold, rainy night in Burlington Monday, but Gilberto Gil kept things hot, hot, hot in the Flynn.
The legendary Brazilian Tropicalìa pioneer was a regal presence as he sat under the muted lights of the Main Stage. Surrounded by his small, crack band—Domenico Lancelotti on drums, Mestrinho on accordion and percussion, and Bem Gil on multiple instruments—the legendary artist was often ensconced in light smoke at center stage, as if a spiritual presence was emanating from him.
In some ways, it was.
The concert was a tribute to a mentor of sorts, João Gilberto, a seminal Brazilian singer and guitarist and the godfather of bossanova. Many of the night’s songs were from Gilberto Gil’s latest album, Gilberto’s Samba, which features Gil reinterpretations of João Gilberto standards.
Singing with a voice as subtle and powerful as his earliest albums, the 72-year-old Gil paid respect to João Gilberto while also adding his own touch to the master’s music. Often this took the place of subtle percussion flourishes from Lancelotti in standards like “Eu Sambo Mesmo” or “O Pato” or “Voce e Eu.” Yet, sometimes Gil’s interpretations brought other surprises, such as subtle electronic percussive sounds in “Desde Que o Samba É Samba.” The most satisfying additions to João Gilberto’s songs came compliments of Mestrinho and his accordion solos, which added tasteful, funky flourishes to songs like “Tim Tim por Tim Tim.”
While most of the intimate, two-hour performance consisted of earnest acoustic samba explorations, Gil unleashed some of the joyous energy of his own songs toward the end of the set, most notably in “Chiclete Com Banana,” in which he got the crowd enthusiastically chanting “bop bop bop she bops” over and over.
Gil’s band, his mastery of guitar, and his amiable banter with the crowd made the cold night an afterthought. In fact, it might as well have been summer in the Flynn as the crowd basked in the warmth and light of Gil’s brilliance.