Monday, May 08, 2006
Getting in the BVSC mood
Packed place. All floors in the main venue at Anciene Belgique were busy at this event. No wonder, it was after all sold out weeks in advance. People came for the mood, the spirit and the fun this excellent band brings. It was passion for music rather and less for the legacy of the old boys in the original band. I was worried a bit before the show thinking it will be an approximate and inevitably sad imitation of the incredible show offered year after year by the band in its all stars composition. The time when Compai Segundo, Ruben Gonzales, and the indefatigable ubershowman Ibrahim Ferrer were still around it made sense to play the old songs and still have a tremendous success. Now almost a year after Ibrahim Ferrer died mid tour that makes little sense. The show's version last Friday avoided the easy way out of pushing an empty shell. Instead they played a mixture of classical and new Cuban songs that were not in the known repertory of the band in the old format. Thus they managed to be fresh, vital and authentic. I believe the only "old" song they played was La Candela. Naturally everybody missed the good old faces and felt a bit of nostalgia. I was deeply saddened last year at Ferrer death as I was each time one or another of the old guard died. They lived long and had a chance few, very few, people are offered especially at their age and in our times. They were great and while it took half a century for the world to find them behind politics and fashion it took seconds for the public to gouge their talent. For me Wim Wenders and Ry Cooder's film's most touching image is that of Ruben Gonzales playing the piano for the little girls in the ballet class tropical sun coming in through the huge Spanish colonial windows. This is whey success did not change that much for these guys. They seemed so in peace and settled. Success was ok, the chance of playing even better. They took it in a stride and loved it to the last drop. I remember seeing Ibrahim Ferrer between two sets in the backstage while the younger part of the band was still at it in front of the crowd. He went out, drank a bit of water, ser down in a chair and then after just a couple of minutes he sprung up and started dancing behind the curtain. This was not for the public as just very few of us could see backstage but for himself. And that while he had a bad knee and was way over eighty years old. Well ... the music is still here and that funny little smile of his lingers.