Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gipsy Kings - Chicago Theater - 2/21/09

What an exerience, what a sound. I started listening to the Gipsy Kings a while back in the early 90s. I was 6 or 7 years young when my grandfather gave me a cassete tape of 'Allegria.' Luckily amidst my love for Vanilla Ice, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Soundtrack, Marky Mark, and MC Hammer, I was able to appreciate the complex sounds of the Gipsy Kings. I remember listening to this on my walkman, in the car and on airplanes, traveling to various places. Since my introduction to them, my relationship with their music has always been about escape, adventure, and the excitement of the unknown.

It was this time last year that I was in Puerto Rico, hanging out on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and enjoying a few Medallas in an attempt to forget the brutal cold Chicago delivers in February. This year I wasn't so lucky. Stuck. Having to deal with winter this time around I've lived it up the best I could. One great thing about Chicago is the diversity of opportunity to see live music, something I obviously take advantage of. Last weekend I had the chance to finally see the Gipsy Kings, and to my surprise I was able to travel away, if only for a couple hours. I knew thi show would be different. Not just in the style of music, but in the atmosphere. I knew it would be different but I still did not know what to expect.

I was curious though, would the audience be older? Would it be lively? What about the band? I wasn't even totally sure what the Gipsy Kings looked like or how old they were. Would they play a lot of songs I'd recognize? My collection of their work is limited to 3 albums, all atleat 10 years old. I realized I had lost touch with this band that I knew I loved. Not that my appreciation for them had faded but my musical interests had taken me in other directions and in the excitement of getting to know new favorites I had neglected the Gipsy Kings.

I arrived at the show and sat eagerly waiting for them to take the stage, looking closely at the un-maned instruments. The crowd was everything you could hope for. They were young, they were old, they were snooty, they were chill. There were families, there were dates, groups of friends large and small and before a single note was played I could tell that everyone in the room had a passion for this music.

The band took the stage and what followed was one of the best performances I've witnessed. These guys are true musicians. There is nothing like hearing 6 guitars all playing together, with their sounds filled out by the textures of 2 drummers, a bassist, and a keyboardist. The energy and emotion from the band members transfered directly to the fans in no time. Women first stood up and danced at their seats, then another, then a couple would come down the aisle. Before long everyone was standing up, clapping along . Drinks were raised, people whistled and cheered. It was one of the most positive environments I've experienced. By the time they were returning for their encore (Bomboleo) women began flooding the stage and dancing with the band members, by the end there must have been 50 women on stage. Who could blame them, thats what good music does to you. It tickles your impulses and strangles your inhibitions, that and Im sure a little alcohol helped as well. The band played and they played well. Crisp and fast.

As for what else they played, there were songs I recognized and some completely new to me. Unfortunately I had become so distant with their music that I wasn't able to compile a set list. It is time to dive in to the Gipsy Kings music some more. I suggest you do the same. If you are well versed with there music already, if they ever come to your town, or even if they don't and you have to travel (as if a vacation would be all that bad) you have to see these guys play, no matter your taste you will not be let down.

Check out the pics below...Thanks Big D for getting up front and scoring some great photos...especially the ones during the Bassists solo!

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