To Be or not to Bebel

I went to the Bebel Gilberto concert with the Bristol gang. After filling my ears with studio-quality recordings in the office (playing her two albums), I was slightly disappointed to hear the real thing.
Bebel and her band were not entirely synchronised in the first few songs. Bebel’s pitch was a little off and there was too much reverb in the sound mixing, which was unnecessary because she had a simple style of singing. Fortunately, after a few more songs the echos went away. And I wanted to shoot the guy who was mucking up the lighting (is it on? is it off? oh, I changed my mind again. Hmm what does this button do?). Plus, they used pre-recorded percussions! 8-(
Bebel’s stage presence took some time to develop. She sounded shy at first, saying just “Thank You” haltingly. Her band members (two guitarists and a saxaphonist/flutist) were pretty quiet too. I was starting to wonder if the concert atmosphere would be awkward all the way.
Bebel sang ‘Baby’ which is a happy, cheeky sort of song. The lyrics mentioned she was going to teach us Portuguese, and I thought she sang this part pretty loud and clear, which made me think she was really going to teach us a few phrases! Just like how Youssou did it a few weeks ago. But this wasn’t the case.
The audience was pretty subdued too (I don’t blame them) until she sang So Nice (Summer Samba). Then I started to wonder if that was the only song that most people knew! After that she warmed up to us and made jokes in her lilting accent and warm, motherly voice. That was more like the Bebel I wanted to see!
August Day Song is actually her most famous song to me, seeing how other people have remixed it and put it in compilations (e.g. Gotan Project). I quite like it myself. However it fell flat on its face because the pre-programmed beat started, then stopped, then rewound and started all over again. When the beat got going, I felt Bebel didn’t need to get us to clap our hands because her music generally isn’t the happy-clappy, ‘get on yer feet’ sort.
Other songs she played:
Samba é Amor
Mais Feliz
Every Day You’ve Been Away
River Song (I liked this one, too. Maybe I just got tired of ‘strum, strum…’)
O Caminho
All Around (written by her Japanese guitarist)
(I can’t remember if she sang Tanto Tempo, and please correct me if I got any of the songs wrong, or left out anything)
The official last song of the concert was Sem Contenção, which was more upbeat and different from the laid-back strumming that was starting to lull me into boredom. So it did end on a good note. At which point, of course, the audience asked for more, and got the encore. (Nobody gave a standing ovation though, and I do agree it wasn’t deserved because of the overall erratic performance).
We were expecting a new rendition of Samba da Benção. However at this point something went wrong with the tenor saxaphone (mouthpiece fell off? wardrobe malfunction?) and Bebel good-humouredly pretended to sound like the sax, and did a pretty good job at that too. She also made a dig at the audience, saying something along the lines of “Oh come on, let down your hair! Everything in this country is so ‘correct’ … ” and we responded in kind.
Side plot: Two of my friends went to the toilet in the middle of the performance, and were told they could not go back in again. It happened to other people as well. The organisers said this was because some performers get upset to see people leave. But that didn’t make sense to me. These people were coming BACK to their seats. If you didn’t want some prima donna to get upset and spoil the performance, then don’t even let anyone leave in the first place. Give them a little potty to wee wee or shit in. Or a rubber band.
After some firm words from another toilet exile, an irate Hong Kong man (who apparently sounded funny and fierce at the same time), the organisers relented and let everyone back in. By which time my friends were quite upset themselves and they missed a few of the better-performed songs. Frankly, Bebel didn’t seem to notice anything, and I’m sure she wouldn’t have minded if she had.
[Post-concert, I was speaking to a Brazilian (current squeeze of another Bristol friend). He said he’d never heard of Bebel.]


  1. Jia

    Heya! It was good bumping into you again on Thurs! I enjoyed the concert although I must admit I was one of those plebs who only recognised So Nice. 😛 However, I intend to rectify that by buying her CDs (would you believe That CD Shop has SOLD OUT of her CDs?) Anyway, we should have dinner some time soon!

  2. vantan

    Yup yup! It’s been ages since we last had dinner (hmm, my birthday, yonks ago??). I think Bebel’s CDs are still worth getting. Guess my expectations were pretty high last week.

  3. Tomorrow

    Bad Coding

    Vanessa said “A few years ago, e-filing was ‘revolutionary’. However, with each passing year the online user base grows, and I really wonder if their server(s) can take the load now. For financial transactions particularly

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