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Roberto Carlos at Radio City Music Hall


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Roberto Carlos
Radio City Music Hall
New York, NY
May 8, 2022

Backed by a 17-piece band that included eight horns under the musical direction of maestro Eduardo Lages, Brazilian singer Roberto Carlos took to the stage at Radio City Music Hall opening with "Emoções," a song that has been his signature opener since its release on his 1981 self-titled album (CBS Records). The tune relies heavily on the horns, and the intro seems based on Frank Sinatra's cover of "Theme from New York, New York," but as it evolves it morphs into a downtempo piano-based ballad which he sang both in Portuguese and Spanish—as he did on most of the tunes on his two-hour set.

Before he stepped on the stage, the band played instrumental versions of some of his major hits while a video played on two large screens on both sides of the stage that summarized his six-decade career, highlighting his various awards and accomplishments. After briefly greeting the audience, he followed the introductory tune with "Amada Amante," a hit from the early 1970s, "Cama e Mesa" and "Concavo e Convexo," the latter being a playful—and lyrically direct—ballad on the compatibility of female and male body parts.

Carlos only went into his 1960s catalogue once—a rendition of the rocker "O Calhambeque," a Portuguese version of John Loudermilk's 1962 hit "Road Hog" with lyrics that have little connection with the original. Gone are the cars racing on the open road. Instead, the Portuguese lyrics speak of a young man who gets a loaner clunker from his mechanic while his Cadillac is undergoing repairs. Though embarrassed, he finds that young women are surprisingly interested in the old car as he drives through the streets of an unnamed city. It is a crowd favorite that gets people moving, a short break from the romantic songs that dominated the set.

Other highlighted songs included "Lady Laura," a tune written in honor of Carlos' mother who passed away in 2010 (the singer was concluding a show on this very stage when the news was broken to him; he interrupted his US tour to return to Brazil for her funeral). This was a fitting dedication for a concert that took place on Mothers' Day. Carlos also sang "Amigo," a hit from the early 1980s written as an appreciation of his longtime songwriting partner Erasmo Carlos (no relation), and a rare cover, Ary Barroso's "Aquarela do Brasil," (known in English simply as "Brazil" since it was featured on the 1942 Walt Disney short of the same name). It's a tune that celebrates everything Brazilian, its fauna and flora and especially its people.

Carlos closed the show with "Jesus Cristo," a pop-rock tune that speaks of the singer's faith in a higher power. As the song went on, he distributed red and white roses to members of the audience—a tradition in his shows that is highly expected by his fans.

At 81 at the time of this writing, Roberto Carlos's voice is in incredible shape; he has lost none of his timbre and delivery nor his energy on stage. His band is solid, which is a testament of the many years Carlos has worked with these musicians, and the final result was a very entertaining concert.

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