Mariza at Town Hall

Ernest Barteldes BY

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Town Halk
New York, NY
October 15, 2016

As part of her first major U.S. tour in nearly five years (she took a break to start a family), Mariza kicked off her set at Town Hall in a more traditional manner, backed by Portuguese and Spanish guitars and acoustic bass, which acknowledged the heritage of the music of Alfama, the Lisbon neighborhood where her career began—including the classic black dress worn by most fado singers.

The direction changed as she briefly left the stage while the group played a brief instrumental piece that integrated into "Adeus," a song that included percussion, a rarity in fado. She emerged in a silver-colored dress and took the music in a completely different direction, embracing sounds from her native Mozambique and other countries where Portuguese is spoken. "Padoce" featured a chorus that blended English and Creole (with audience participation). "Caprichosa" was sung in Spanish in a style very close to flamenco singer Concha Buika—sung not as an imitation but a tribute, giving it her own feel.

Mariza built great chemistry with the audience, and at one point interrupted the show to canvass where everyone in the audience was from—responses included Brazil, Poland, Cuba and Belgium among the majority of Portuguese fans in attendance. One of the surprises on the set was "Canto de Ossanha," a bossa nova-era tune written by Vinicius de Morais}and Baden Powellwith an arrangement that had a very strong Afro-Brazilian feel.

It would not have been possible to do a fado show without acknowledging Amalia Rodrigues, and that was done with "O Gente da Minha Terra," a song that has become a staple for Portuguese performers that has a fresh approach on Mariza's voice.

The concert closed with "Missangas," a percussive tune with a catchy wordless chorus that had the entire audience joining in as she went into the audience, encouraging everyone to sing along. Mariza stretched the set to almost three hours—possibly a way to thank the fans who had not heard her live in a very long time.

It was great to hear Mariza take fados to a more contemporary direction—revival time has come and gone, and if those in the genre want to stay current, they should take her lead. She arguably brought fado back from oblivion, and she is also leading the way for its future.

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