Monday, August 13, 2007

Flamenco Nights

I'm not a big fan of flamenco music and I buy relatively little of it, but the full force of the music truly comes across when you see some of the finest perfomers live in concert. This weekend I saw both José Mercé and Carmen Linares performing on consecutive nights in the Jardines de Sabatini in Madrid. The music aside, Sabatini is one of the best places in Madrid for concerts during the summer. If there is any air moving in the city on a hot August night then at least some of its effects will be felt in this place, as it overlooks the descent down to what used to be the River Manzanares. Even the royal palace (almost) looks beautiful as a backdrop to the stage where the concerts are held.

After the concert by Carmen Linares on Saturday night, I crossed over the Viaducto, formerly Madrid's favourite spot for committing suicide, to watch Antonio Carmona perform en Las Vistillas as part of the fiestas currently taking place in the centre of Madrid. Carmona is well known as one of the leaders of Ketama, a group that have produced some of the most interesting fusions of "new" flamenco with other music. I'm not sure if the group is formally dead, or if they are just resting, but on the evidence of Saturday night I think Carmona would be better off getting them back into action. His newer material is nowhere near as good, too smooth and bland for my liking, and after seeing a superb performance by Linares the contrast was even greater.


rod said...

I think José Mercé is one of the best two male flamenco singers (along with Enrique Morente). Have you heard his version of Manu Chao’s Clandestino? Not sure it entirely works, but it’s interesting.

I bought the Antonio Carmona CD and I agree, I think it is very disappointing. It is like he is trying to compete with Alejandro Sanz and Juanes (who are both guests on the album) for the Latin pop market, rather than the flamenco he does best.

Graeme said...

I haven't listened to any of José Mercé's records - although I have now seen him 3 times in concert. I have mixed feelings about him, his concerts are a mixture of things I really like, and some others which leave me cold. I preferred the performance by Carmen Linares. I did see Enrique Morente once, although I was a little far from the stage which means in Spain that you hear far more of the conversations going on around you than the music. What I heard, I liked.

lee said...

were there any dancers in the concert? there usually are. the true appreciation of flamenco is the fusion of the rhythms and the dance styles, it would have been really great if the concert had dances in it. :)

"have you heard of blogs? they're amazing"

flamenco express said...

Not a fan?
We like to convince you otherwise.