Gilberto Gil's "peak emotional mercury" in Vancouver

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Thursday April 16, 2015

By Tony Montague

Gilberto Gil cool and collected in Vancouver

I confess to having spent the first four numbers of Gilberto Gil’s concert wanting to be somewhere else—like a small foreign club where the warmth of the Brazilian icon’s acoustic music would instantly bring the room to life.

Instead, the Chan Centre felt huge, the four musicians looking small and strangely distant from each other in their respective pools of light. The mood felt low-key. After Gil ambled on-stage smiling, he sat down and tuned the strings of his guitar without saying a word. It wasn’t until four samba songs into the show that he addressed the sold-out crowd.

He then talked at some length about a meeting with an Aboriginal elder in Australia—an engaging anecdote, but was Gil going to stop the flow of the music like this all evening? But the cool-and-collected approach was part of the evening’s game plan for one of the music world’s most sophisticated and respected artists. Gil’s show proved a subtle and perfectly paced demonstration of how to lead an audience from expectation through uncertainty into a collective state of euphoria over the course of 24 songs.

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