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Marisa Monte: New York, June 26, 2013

Ernest Barteldes By

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Marisa Monte
Beacon Theater
New York, NY
June 26, 2012

On her first New York appearance in seven years, singer Marisa Monte began her set behind a see-through screen used to project various colorful images directly connected to her 2012 album, Tudo Que Voce Queria Saber de Verdade (Blue Note). She was backed by a seven-piece band that included members of Nação Zumbi and veteran guitarist Dadi (Novos Baianos, Caetano Veloso, Tribalistas). She started the set with the album's title track and immediately followed with "Descalço no Parque," another track from the same disc. The screen was then lifted and she went to the front of the stage to great applause from her fans, which filled the sold-out venue.

Unlike most visiting Brazilian artists, Monte did not concentrate on oldies from her two-decade career. Instead, she focused mostly on tunes from Verdade, playing close to the tunes' original arrangements. She played electric ukulele, acoustic and electric guitars while she sang, and when not playing instruments, Monte did her trademark flailing arms as she sang each song. She paid tribute to the late Cassia Eller by performing "ECT," a Marisa Monte/Nando Reis/Carlinhos Brown composition that Monte has never recorded in the studio but which became a hit for Eller, to whom the song was given in the mid-'90s. While Eller's version was more grounded on maracatu, Monte's band played with a nod to flamenco, including handclaps (augmented by the audience).

Visuals played a major part of the concert. Every song had a theme, and images were either projected on a screen or on the band. During one tune, a single kaleidoscope-like light was projected on Monte and the resulting shadow was on the screen behind her. At times, the entire ensemble was obscured by avant-garde projections played on them.

Towards the second half of the show, it was time for more familiar hits from her previous albums, including "Beija Eu" (one of her earliest tracks), and "De Mais Ninguém," which featured Dadi on a Baiana guitar (sort of an electric cavaquinho). She dedicated a previously unreleased song, the psychedelic-inspired "Quem Me Dera," whose lyrics speak of a utopian time without violence and fear, to the political protests going on in Brazil at the time of the concert.

As she ended the show, she returned to the stage alone with her ukulele and sang "Deixa Eu Dizer Que Te Amo," a tune from Memories, Chronicles and Declarations of Love (EMI, 2000), its chorus sung by a cast of thousands. The band returned for the funky "Nao Va Embora," from the same album.

Monte demonstrated incredible showmanship—she barely paused between songs, but when she did, she took the time to communicate with the audience, explaining the origins of some of the set's material. She proved a consummate entertainer who has clearly learned how to work the crowd and has the gift of writing timeless melodies..

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