19 November 2005

Seu Jorge @ Millennium Park, 19 September

One of the many reasons to love Chicago is Millennium Park, particularly the free concerts that run all summer long at Frank Gehry’s astonishing Pritzker Pavilion. The acoustics are great, and the visuals are particularly awesome. To the left of the stage is the stunning architecture of Michigan Avenue, truly gorgeous at sunset. By the time the setting sun fades, the house lights are registering similar effects against the pavilion’s steel surfaces.

We didn’t attend as many of these concerts as we would have expected this summer, but we did catch a few. One of these was Seu Jorge, the Brazilian musician who first entered the consciousness of many North Americans when he was featured in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou last year, singing David Bowie covers in Portuguese.

The concert took place on the cusp of autumn solstice, as part of the World Music Festival, and we got there 30 minutes late, but the free concert lasted at least another hour. You can’t beat listening to beautiful, sensual Brazilian music at twilight. Some people were dancing at their seats.

Seu Jorge left the stage after a series of wonderful numbers we’d never heard before, and a band of young percussionists stayed behind to entertain the audience. These kids were fabulous, not just drumming, but directing the audience to accompany them with claps. The audience, in trying (and failing) to keep up with the complex rhythms generated on stage, gained a fresh appreciation of the talent involved.

To our gratified surprise, Seu Jorge returned after some 20 minutes, and did a long encore that encompassed several David Bowie songs in Portuguese. As the concert finally ended, we felt like we were floating, and drifted out of the park toward our bus stop, completely content.

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