TO Jazz Review: Paco de Lucia, June 27, Sony Centre

Toronto – Guitar legend Paco de Lucia played the Sony Centre last Monday. It was an evening of flamenco music, crazy flamenco dancing, and perplexing reversals of gender stereotypes. It was one of the most highly anticipated shows of the festival, and while there was certainly some amazing music to be heard, it did leave many feeling a little underwhelmed.

When I think of harp music, it brings to mind thoughts of light classical music gently strummed by slightly creepy baby angels.

Columbian harpist Edmar Castaneda opened the evening with a very strong, if short, set. When I think of harp music, it brings to mind thoughts of light classical music gently strummed by slightly creepy baby angels. For me the harp is a gentle and fair instrument. It evokes sleepy times. Edmar’s treatment of the instrument was distinctly different from the status quo. His was the most assertive approach to the instrument I’ve seen. He muted strings with his elbows and plucked like a madman; it was a rhythmic and percussive treatment of latin music.

Before long, el hombre himself took to the stage to lay down some sweet flamenco. Don’t get me wrong, Paco is one talented guitarist. He plays guitar the way Superman would play guitar if he were so inclined. The only difference being that Superman would probably need a specially constructed guitar made of carbon fibre or some shit to withstand his super grip. If I had to describe Paco’s backing band, I would use the words tasteful,  judicious, and a little crazy. Spanish flamenco singing is kind of like yelling in key and the trio of male singers were pretty intense.

Halfway through the set, one of male singers hopped on the wooden dance floor for some traditional flamenco dancing. Although technically this type of dancing  is a unisex sport, I always associate it with beautiful and voluptuous Spanish women; what with their crazy innate understanding of confusingly sensual rhythm and their crazy little tiny finger cymbals. This male singer/dancer strutted around with all the feminine bravado, or feminado, of a Spanish Michael Flatley. The fact that just an hour earlier I was listening to a masculine harpist only helped to further confuse my gender stereotypes. Needless to say, I left the Sony Centre much more distraught about who I am.

Paco is one talented guitarist. He plays guitar the way Superman would play guitar if he were so inclined.

Easily the most disappointing part of the show was the encore, or rather lack thereof. To be fair, I don’t think encores should be automatically granted. However, with great fame comes great responsibility. When an entire auditorium is clamouring for a little more from a musical legend, the encore becomes a key gesture of goodwill. I was more than little surprised to see the lights go on after a few minutes of intense clapping. The crowd was not ready to give up. Eventually someone came out and announced that due to “hall regulations”, there was a “curfew” and they could not “play anymore”.

That was weak. I’ve been to many a concert at the Sony Centre and am not aware of any curfews for 10:36 pm, including the following night when badass band Return to Forever played till 10:46. The crazy thing about this is how easily it could have been avoided. Just take the existing playlist and end it one song early. People would applaud, the band would leave the stage. Paco would come back. The crowd would go wild. He’d play one more song. The lights would go on, and people would leave with a smile on their face. Instead, many of the crowd left the Sony Centre feeling disappointed that their encore request was so flatly denied. It felt like a rookie mistake from a seasoned veteran.

Edmar Castaneda:

Paco de Lucia:

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Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival

2 Responses to TO Jazz Review: Paco de Lucia, June 27, Sony Centre

  1. Dan Urech

    I am DYING to know the setlist that Paco played that night! i wanna find the first song he played but dont know what its called

  2. elcabronazo

    This is such a stupid review.How can you review a concert when you clearly know absolutely nothing about a type of music?Fuck the encore.Paco is 64! You should be grateful you got to see one of the greatest musicians of all time.

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