Olé la negra guapa

Woman, beauty, passionate, barefoot, artist, friend, lover, direct, wise, black, powerful, bisexual, singer, emotive, crazy, medium, girl, funny, writer, taurian, witty, deep, insecure, brave… how many tags could you give Concha Buika? So many that I can only summarize them all in one: AUTHENTIC.

The Spanish-African-Gypsy phenomenon has grown to be and give the best she has: herself. She promised to fall in love with herself as much as she cursed from her innermost those who hurt her in the past. She made us laugh with her spontaneous talking in the middle of the songs, criticizing the hard times that Spanish government throws on the people in our country. She reinvented many of the songs she performed, adding tons of improvisation (including some air-saxophone), with the magnificent response of the 3 musicians who accompanied her wherever she decided to go. There were no flaws at all, since all the mistakes she did, she did out of being her true self -and there’s nothing as spectacular as the honesty with which she presented us tonight.

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Concha Buika tonight at the Barbican

From that first offer to the Gods, pouring for three times bits of her drink on the floor and crossing herself, to the oblivious dance in the last song, there wasn’t a moment in which she didn’t try to enjoy what she was doing. She succeeded  after the first song, as soon as the sound levels where adjusted and she could reign in the music palace that her band was building. The Spanish majority in the audience soon started to hoot and cheer her, which made her feel at home, welcoming us to her territory and treating us like the closest friends ever: sharing with us her secrets and best pieces of advice.

Buika’s wide voice, with her raspy tenderness is specially fit for the flamenco-pop style that she has mastered. But she has added many flavours to her art: I would say that on top of Estrella Morente and Remedios Amaya we could hear tonight also undertones from Celia Cruz, Nina Simone, Chavela and Sade. And yet she allows herself to play with many of her songs, making us fortunate enough to get the best she’s capable of. She didn’t even have a setlist because she needs to sing from her heart, and who can tell her what will she fancy singing? She even accepted a couple requests from the audience! Truly divine, Concha!! Of course many British will have left the room thinking she’s very foul-mouthed and even crazy but for us Spaniards her fresh approach to everything felt like a very needed break to politeness and correction.

Just to top the pie, the small but super effective band delighted us whenever they had room to play on their own (special mention there to Dani de Morón’s guitar solos). José Manuel Posada and Ramón Porrina were fabulous also reading every movement of their close-friend diva, adapting their dynamics, rhythms and even keys to what she was doing (she started several songs just accompanied by the cajón or palmas).

The only possible result was obviously a big standing ovation from the whole audience, which they received with modesty and wholeheartedly. Just before I finish I need to thank my friend Antonio Jesús who invited me to join him (such a great time we had!), as well as the festival La línea, which will hopefully return next spring with more amazing latin music for our only enjoyment.

Difficult to choose just one highlight, but her new single “Vámonos” touched me specially tonight
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