Madredeus, Veterans Wadsworth Theater, Los Angeles, 10/18/97
In retrospect, it seems almost a little silly that I drove all the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles to see Madredeus. Of all the places to find beauty born of innocence, LA seems like it should be far down on the list, but that's exactly what Madredeus delivered - how did they manage to slip past the image police at the city limits?
Musically, Madredeus were absolutely breathtaking. The show ended up being 45 minutes late because of technical difficulties, but everyone seemed to take it in stride. Somehow, the intricate musical filigree that they wove managed to soothe the pretentious Angelean beast - I would have thought the horror of nearly an hour's delay would have sparked at least one absurd lawsuit for breach of ticket contract or bruised aura or some such poppycock, but instead the first note silenced the audience, and nary a peep was heard after that save the applause.
Having seen them once before, I found myself unfortunately comparing the two performances. I have to say that I missed the accordion player and cellist who were not present tonight. Petty fault-finding along those lines, though, is analogous to condemning a green leaf for not burning with the embered colors of the dying year. The music was still gorgeous, but stubtlely different in tone. Madredeus have grown ever so slightly to be more modern and a tiny bit less evocative of the traditional air (note the exiting of the accordion and cello). Despite the fact that they are anchored to the Portuguese 'fado' style, their new material (all but 1 of the songs tonight) is less weighty and melancholy than their older works. I think I will never forget Teresa Salgueiro dancing to the 'Dance of the Happy People' during the instrumental portion of the song.
If you ever ask someone the question "So what do you think of Portugal?" and require that the answer be in musical form, the response, I imagine, could only sound like Madredeus. As an aside - as our group left the concert hall, we found ourselves using words like "soporific" and "ethereal". I can't prove it, but perhaps listening to Madredeus makes you just a little smarter.
Holiday gift idea - Look for their new album 'Paraisio' to be released domestically soon. Their previous albums 'Os Dias da Madredeus', 'Existir', 'Lisbon' (live), 'O Espirito da Paz', and 'Ainda' are all beautiful, but somewhat hard to find.
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