Review: Bixiga 70 @ Rich Mix (London, 29th January 2015)

They said you’d never forget your first time, and even if Bixiga 70’s performance at Rich Mix was your second, third or fourth it would still be a night to remember!

Last Friday the Brazilian big-band from São Paulo made its début on a British stage, but its name is hardly new. Five years and three albums have strengthened the musical and personal bond between its ten musicians, and their show was a direct consequence of their cooperation. Although the ensemble performed almost two hours’ worth of fifteen songs plus two encores, the Rich Mix crowd craved more and left the venue only when the lights eventually faded out.

It was a night to remember for the more than four-hundred Brazilian and non-Brazilian fans of one of the most unpredictable musical sensations to come out of the South American country. Rarely has the exchange between musicians and audience been so heartfelt.

After ‘Niran‘, the first act of the performance, Bixiga 70 showed what it is to be a collective. The band is a gathering of remarkable soloists working perfectly together. Once on stage the sounds of their instruments met, melded, broke off, distanced themselves and finally came back together to create a harmony of melodic lines and rhythms.

If Brazilian footballers are famous for their ball skills, Bixiga 70’s musicians should be well-known for their musical version. When they perform, it looks as if they are taking part in a well-practiced game, playing their roles by heart. They pass the solos to one another in the way that confident footballers do with passes and shots, showing enviable familiarity with the material while surprising us with individual initiative.  The audience was overwhelmed by the all-absorbing impact of the most rhythmic tunes like ‘Kalimba’, ‘Ocupai’, ‘Ventania’ and a vehement rendition of their latest single, ‘100% 13’.

Displaying their Brazilian traditional character, social consciousness, afrobeat references, and psychedelic themes directly recalling 1970s imaginary, Bixiga 70 finally brought to London their one-of-a-kind team chemistry. Their fans’ reaction was summed in an impromptu conga train wiggling and rolling throughout the venue for two songs, so we will surely be enjoying their upcoming shows pretty soon!