Thursday, November 23, 2006


Okay, a thoroughly misleading title because contemporary chanteuse Mariza is nowhere near chav territory and hers is not watered down music. Instead, she is the bleached blonde, sultry Mozambiquan and Portuguese mistress of soulful, bluesy, melancholic and joyful fado. We've seen her twice before, at the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall, but last night she "fulfilled a dream" by playing at the Royal Albert Hall and it was the most intimate performance so far despite the grand and opulent surroundings.

Perhaps because the stage was so small; perhaps because she was flanked not just by her usual quartet of adufe drum, acoustic bass and Spanish and Portuguese guitars but by a classical 15 piece string section; perhaps because at one point she leapt off the stage and sang, sans microphone, in amongst the crowd; perhaps it was because we were just eleven rows away from the stage; perhaps it was because we knew her mother had flown in from Portugal to see her sing last night; perhaps it was because her duets with singers Jaques Morelenbaum, a Brazilian, Tito Paris, from the Cape Verde islands, veteran fado singer Carlos Do Carmo, and Portuguese heartthrob Rui Veloso felt more like jamming sessions in a small, smoky Lisbon bar; or perhaps it was the way her voice effortlessly moved from breathy whispers to soaring elegance in the space of a single stanza that made it feel so intimate.

A truly sexy and spine-tingling night.

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