Bebel Gilberto took the stage at Hiro Ballroom in New York City Wednesday night, kicking off the holiday weekend with a buoyant evening of both material from her September album, All in One, and past favorites. The singer-songwriter, whose father, João Gilberto has been dubbed the father of bossa nova, brought the same smooth-as-honey touch that has made her the queen of contemporary Brazilian beats for nearly a decade.
Much like on her albums, Gilberto shifted between Portuguese- and English-language songs, opening her set with the African-influenced “Aganju,” from her self-titled 2004 album. But between swaying numbers like “So Nice” and the Bob Marley cover “Sun is Shining,” the more rousing melodies like “Bim Bom” and “Chica Chica Boom” instantly switched the vibe from piano bar to raucous samba dancefloor.
And even though the Asian-designed venue seemed a bit mismatched for her bossa nova style, its small size proved perfect for the crowd and Gilberto herself, who, at one point, picked up and showed to the audience a sketch a fan had been drawing during the concert. It was a pretty impressive piece of work, but not surprising considering how much adoration Gilberto’s fans seem to have for her. That’s not to say, though, that the singer doesn’t reciprocate. When she wasn’t purring the melodies, Gilberto was professing her love for the crowd, and her love for, well, love.
If that wasn’t the perfect kick-off to a weekend of love and thanks, I don’t know what is.
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Photo: Henrique Gendre