14-Bis at Centro Dragao do Mar

Ernest Barteldes BY

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14 Bis
Centro Dragao do Mar
Fortaleza, Brazil
May 30, 2015

On their second concert at Fortaleza's Centro Dragao do Mar concert series for the 2015 season, 14-Bis kicked off their set with "Bola de Meia, Bola de Gude," a Milton Nascimento composition from the band's second album 14 Bis II (EMI-Odeon, 1980), with lead vocals shared by Claudio Venturini (guitar), Vermelho (keyboards) and Sergio Magrao (bass).

Nascimento was a major influence of the band's early career—members of the group have regularly recorded with him, and he was also the producer of their self-titled debut album (EMI-Odeon, 1979).

The group, which is rounded out by Heli Rodrigues (drums, vocals), has been together since 1979, with the only change in the lineup being the departure of Flavio Venturini (who has continued to contribute in the songwriting—he and Claudio Venturini are brothers) in 1996 to pursue a solo career. They sounded incredibly tight, and Claudio Venturini showed incredible dexterity on the electric guitar, playing extended solos on most of the songs. They also did their characteristic four-part harmonies, a constant feature of their canon.

It was a small disappointment to notice that 14-Bis made use of some pre-recorded sounds throughout the set—at one point the harmonies continued even though only Venturini was singing, and at other times you could hear an acoustic guitar. Those resources were, however, minimally used.

During the set, they concentrated on the major hits of their long career, including originals penned by the members of the group (all have contributed to the canon) and tunes by other songwriters. Some of the highlights were "Canção da América," a Nascimento tune that went on to become a Brazilian standard, and also "Uma Velha Canção Rock and Roll," a folksy song about looking back at one's youth.

Also notable was "Mais Uma Vez," a collaboration between Flavio Venturini and the late Renato Russo that turned out to become a major hit in Brazil. On a live setting the song got rid of the heavy synthesizers from the original recording, concentrating instead on the harmonies and also Claudio Venturini's extended solo. Another great moment was "Nossa Linda Juventude," a track from Idade da Luz (EMI-Odeon, 1983) that has become a sing-along staple during the group's live appearances.

It was certainly a memorable evening—the band sounded incredibly tight, and they seemed to enjoy what they were doing. They also had great rapport with the audience, and after the set fans were invited to go backstage to meet and greet and also take photos— something you do not see every day with major bands in Brazil.

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