Well it’s been a while since my last post. If I’m being honest, I’ve sat down at my computer a few times and tried to write something I’d be happy to publish, but with little success. During the World Cup I was posting a LOT, but then…well it was as if the end of the Cup also marked the loss of my writing mojo. For the first time in the whole three years since I started writing this blog, I just couldn’t write!
So here goes….
In the midst of all the craziness of the World Cup, I was invited to a concert that I’ve been meaning to write about for some time. In the second week of the tournament (when I was hoping England would win at least one game…I know, I was being pretty optimistic!), I was one of a number of international writers invited to SESC Pinheiros to watch Jorge Mautner and the Grammy award winning Caetano Veloso in concert.
Given that the last show I had gone to was a Valesca Popozuda concert (Whose name translates to Ms. Large Bottom for us English speakers, here is the review!), I was really looking forward to seeing some decent, live, Brazilian music. So when Jorge opened the show I was immediately taken with what I was hearing. Interestingly my friend Rita recognised Jorge not as a famous singer, but as a writer. You see, Mautner is a bit of a triple threat; he is a singer, writer and a composer. As it turns out, he is also pretty handy on the fiddle too.
After about thirty minutes Caetano Veloso appeared on the stage, and he was welcomed by a very enthusiastic audience. Then he stated singing…
I’d heard little of his music before this concert (which interestingly seems to transcend a lot of different styles), and during the show there were times when I barely understood what he was singing about…but nevertheless, I couldn’t help but notice that he had an almost hypnotizing presence on that stage. I`d even go as far as to say he was effortlessly captivating.
I know what you’re thinking right now, ‘Effortlessly captivating?’ Really? Andrew, you sound like a friggin hippy’, and I guess you’re right. I’m actually struggling to express how much I liked this show without sounding like I’ve vomited up Jayne Austin’s thesaurus….so I’ll put it simply, I was really touched by his music.
This surprised me. You see, when I first arrived in Brazil ‘Let’s listen to some bossa nova/ MPB (Popular Brazilian Music)’ was never something that fell very kindly on my ears. I remember once being asked at a house party if I was enjoying the bossa nova being played, and I smiled politely and answered that I was. But in fact, I found it incredibly dull!
Nowadays though, it is a very different story. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older, perhaps it is because I’m living in Brazil and exposed to Brazilian music, or maybe it’s a combination of the two; but I’ve grown to enjoy a variety of Brazilian styles of music that I was quick to dismiss before. So as I watched Veloso, what I appreciated most about his performance was the tender and subtle way he delivered his lyrics.
I’d not been to a concert in a Brazilian auditorium before, so I was interested to observe how the Brazilians around me would respond to a show in this setting.
And I wasn’t disappointed!
I particularly enjoyed watching the woman sat in front of me, who was a strongly built, full bussomed woman who looked like she’d give great bear hugs. She was determined to see the show through her camera lens and was filming every moment happening on stage. Even though filming wasn’t permitted inside, she was clearly undeterred by this. As she recorded, she’d crane her neck round every few minutes in the hope she wouldn’t see any of the SESC staff patrolling the isles, staff looking for people just like her!
She lasted a good thirty minutes before she was spotted and asked to turn off her device. Then things got interesting, as even though she knew she shouldn’t have been filming this no-nonsense woman stood her ground and tried to argue her way out of putting her camera away. Eventually she was persuaded to turn it off, and as the staff member walked away he was shot a look of extreme contempt! If looks could kill, this woman would be going down for a VERY long time! As he walked away she muttered to her partner how unreasonable he had been, looked genuinely upset for almost a full minute, then resumed filming!
By the time the concert had come to an end the audience was up on their feet to applaud Mautner and Veloso. Then when these artists graciously accepted their applause and left the stage, something else quite unexpected happened.
A good fifty percent of those in the auditorium descended to the front of the stage and started clapping at the empty space in front of them. I really didn’t understand why this well-dressed, mature audience would do this. Were they getting ready to mosh? Was Slipknot a surprise special guest!?! As my friend Rita grabbed my arm and led me down to the stage, she explained that that this sort of behavior is quite common in venues like this. People often make their way to the front to encourage the artist to play an encore!
About a minute later, everyone cheered when Jorge reappeared to play one last song. Then when he finished we turned around to leave, but I couldn`t help but notice that lurking in the middle of the auditorium was a very odd looking guy.
He was stood right in the middle of his deserted row (where everyone could see him), he was wearing leather trousers and had dyed blonde, spiky hair. It wasn’t long before a woman went up to ask for her picture with him.
“Who is that?” I asked, as I contemplated this strange looking guy from afar.
“Oh God” groaned my friend, before rolling her eyes, “that’s Supla!”
As soon as she’d said his name, it immediately rang a bell. Why? Well I knew that this guy has a famous mother (she used to be the mayor of São Paulo) and his father is also a well known Brazilian senator. He is famous as his own right as a singer and media personality too. In fact, just last year he was the star of a show called ‘Find Supla a Girlfriend’ (or something like that), in which Brazilian women competed to date him. Yes, women actually competed to date this Johnny Rotten look-a-like!
I’m scratching my head right now….and wondering if I will EVER understand Brazilian culture!
Well, I love me a Z-List Brazilian celebrity, so I went over and asked to have my picture with him. Unsurprisingly he agreed, and as I pointed over to my friend holding the camera, Supla threw his arm up in the air and screamed in English…“Rock and f*cking roll!” I’m not going to lie, as soon as these words came flying out of his mouth I instantly felt like this was the least ‘Rock and f*cking roll’ moment of my life! (And yes, I’m including the moment I once danced to Timber in a nightclub and liked it). But have to admit, I really liked Supla’s enthusiasm. Less so his leather trousers!
On reflection, I’d go as far as to say that the Jorge Mautner and Caetano Veloso show has been my favourite Brazilian music concert I’ve seen so far. Sorry about that Miss Large Bottom, but Veloso, Mautner and SESC really did a great job of reaffirming from me just how endearing Brazilian music can be!
It would be wrong for me to wrap up a blog post on attending a concert at SESC Pinheiros without writing a little bit about SESC. Now, before coming over to Brazil, if I were to hear the words ‘cultural centre’ I’m pretty sure they would have conjured up images of rundown halls, flea ridden sofas and watered down coffee. However, the SESCs I’ve been to have been very modern, innovatively designed and extremely well run. For example, at the SESC in Pinheiros there is a pool, gym, space designed for art exhibitions, frequent theatre and dance performances, concerts, film screenings and also a restaurant with very delicious food…all in the same building.
Recently the quality of the food in these restaurants was noted by a journalist writing for The Guardian; who placed the SESC Pinheiros restaurant in the ‘Top 10 Budget Restaurants and Cafes in São Paulo’. I can also attest that this food is pretty damn good, and very reasonably priced too. Very rarely have I paid more than 20 reais for a meal there (and when I say meal, I’m talking a decent sized plate of food, a desert, a drink and also a cheeky coffee! I’m not in the habit of holding back when it comes to my food!!!).
So if you’re a tourist coming to São Paulo, you could do a lot worse than look up your nearest SESC, where you’ll be able to take advantage of the food and a free art exhibition; and if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a ticket, a performance or two!
For more information on SESC, take a look at their website: http://www.sescsp.org.br/