04 Aug

Last night in Europe: gig review

silpecruWe spent our final night in Europe in a circular room with a few hundred besotted spaniards watching a beautiful woman sing love songs.

Our hosts were going to a concert and recommended we join them. Geraldine spoke so lovingly of Silvia Perez-Cruz, espousing her voice, lyrics, song choice, vulnerability. She said there was so much more to her music than simply a woman singing.

It was music that made Geraldine’s jaw drop and rendered her unable to think of, or do, anything else until the song had finished. Having watched a YouTube video of her singing Pequeño Vals Vienes that nearly made me cry, we obviously decided to go along.

Luckily Geraldine knows Silvia through a friend and could get us two tickets because the concert had sold out. Baden and I were sitting on either side of the stage, the only tickets left being apart. Silvia and her guitarist, Raul, entered the stage to huge applause that went on for a few minutes. The crowd finally settled down as she sat next to Raul and they began with Luna. Her voice is so pure and captivating, she is captivating. You can’t stop looking at her. Her voice gave me goosebumps. The next song was in German, then an Edith Piaff song in French, then a lovely jazz standard in English called I Get Along Without You Very Well.

I was silently crying and mopping my face with my scarf. This doesn’t happen to me. Well, it has happened once in my life many years ago. This was an incredibly special evening. She sang a kind of trippy song with distorted guitar called Mercè that made me feel as though the music was energy that I could breath in. I closed my eyes and saw images of her running ahead of me along an old European street, of flying.

I believe she sang a song in Portuguese next and then Compañero. She told the story of the song, that it is in three parts. The first about the pain of losing someone, the second about the anger and the third of hope. Geraldine told us later that the lyrics are from a poem written by Miguel Hernandez for his friend Ramon Sije who had died in the Spanish Civil War before they could mend a rift in their friendship. I was welling up just listening to the beautiful way Silvia told the story of the song.

The power and sensitivity of her performance was breathtaking. I found myself gulping back little sobs and loudly sniffing during the loud, climatic moments. Silvia played percussion at various moments during the song, building the tension until with a final strangled note she thumped the drum and the theatre simultaneously went black.

The instant roar of the audience was animalistic. Everyone in the room was so affected by the performance, no one could contain their emotion. When the lights came back up she had a unanimous standing ovation and Silvia was turned away from the audience with her hand over her mouth overcome by tears. When the people watching saw this, it fueled their emotional response. They clapped even more loudly, calling out to her. Silvia motioned to Raul to go off stage with her and he helped her, giving her a hug as they ducked behind the curtain.

The crowd clapped. For four or five minutes. Until Silvia was ready to return.

She started, in a faltering way, with something lighter. Before the next song, she admitted she had never had to leave the stage like that before. Her honesty in word and performance was so compelling.

Some of the intensity was lost though. I think she had to hold back for fear of losing control again. I’m not sure how she could do it! She sang a song written by her father with lyrics by her mother. She lost her father in 2011 and dedicated an album to his memory. Her voice was so full of love that again, my tears were falling.

Her performance lasted two and a half hours and was truly incredible. Our friend Pablo said afterwards that it was the last of her tour and that she seemed almost high, that it was the best he’d seen her. Near the end, when she introduced Pequeño Vals Vienes, the crowd murmured in excitement. In this one, it wasn’t the strong, pained and louder parts that made me cry but the contrasting soft notes that showed such vulnerability and depth of emotion. That told the story of love and loss.

While I looked around the room at the wonderful and appreciative Madrileños clapping and calling Brava! While I listened to this evocative musician, singing in multiple European languages. While I thought about flying to Cuba the next day. I felt it was the perfect way to spend my last night in Europe..

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