Back2Black Festival, Old Billingsgate Market, London
added: 4 Jul 2012
// gig date: 30 Jun 2012
reviewer: Victoria McKinney
I have to be honest, I took notice of the Back2Black Festival originally because Criolo was playing. A poet, musician, rapper and composer, he has risen to become one of Brazil’s most illustrious artists. Famous for his politically-charged and emotional songs and performances, he is a modern Chico Buarque; a young voice for frustrated 'Brasileiros'.
Born in the 'Favela das Imbuias', one of the many shanty towns in Sao Paulo, Criolo (real name Klober Gomes) knows first-hand the other side of Brazil's remarkable economic growth. Indeed it is this that drives his musical direction; inequality, corruption and poverty are all issues that feed into his music and he has become a modern voice for frustrated Brasileiros.
In short, to say I was excited was an understatement. He came on stage to a sea of devoted fans, many Brazilian, most mixed-nationality (I witnessed an elderly British man singing along in Portuguese). Paying homage to the wider theme of the Back2Black Festival, he wore traditional African dress and jumped around the stage as he sang the well-known song ‘Subirusdoistiozin’. Criolo is known for his poetry and I found his lyrics incredibly impassioned. In ‘Não Existe Amor em SP’ (There is No Love in São Paulo) he laments:
The bars are full of souls as empty;
Greed vibrates, vanity excites;
Give me back my life and die by drowning in your own sea of gall;
Here nobody is going to heaven.
The appearance of Ethiopian jazz maestro Mulatu Astatke generated roars and cheers from the crowd. The down-side was that Criolo completely dominated the stage and may as well have been there as a soloist. I also felt a little that he got caught up in the showbusiness of the night. No doubt performing in Europe must have been out of his comfort zone, but he shouldnt be afraid. The same crowd that know and love him were there to see him as he is; raw, gorgeous and relevant.
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