Review: Flavia Coelho @ Omeara (London, 21st March 2017)

Are you looking for an anthology of Brazilian music? Don’t try to find it on Amazon or at your nearby record shop… buy a ticket for the next Flavia Coelho gig instead. Because the Brazilianidade oozes from every pore of the carioca singer/songwriter.

At Omeara, accompanied by two remarkable music partners (Victor Vagh on keys and drummer Al Chonville); Flavia showed what Brazilian music is all about. Samba, bossa nova, MPB but also reggae, African rhythms and Latin American influences. It was all represented throughout the show, which followed the upbeat dj-set performed by London born-and-bred dub guru Prince Fatty and his crew.

However, it wasn’t just about the captivating music that Flavia Coelho played, it was also about her attitude. She is a natural: Even before starting to sing, she hooks you with her magnetic stage presence. She talks and chats with her audience, it looks and feels like she converses with every single one of them. Portuguese, Spanish or English it doesn’t matter: She knows how to make herself understood.

Then, her music speaks for herself too. They were a trio on the Omeara stage, but it sounded like you were attending the performance of a 7-piece or even bigger ensemble. Flavia’s personal, unique and stylish bossa-muffin sound has become her trademark, and almost a rule of life. She’s intrinsically Brazilian, carioca and baiana (from the North East of the country) at the same time. In addition, she lives in Paris and regards the world as a musical treasure trove, listening to new sounds and putting them into practice in her music.

That’s where her shows come from: they’re unpredictable sets following the unpredictable mood of their inspired architect. You can listen to traditional melodies from North-Eastern Brazil at one point and the minute after, some refined electro-pop French-oriented beats. You close your eyes and start dreaming of the Pan de Azúcar and Rio’s Tropical beaches listening to a bossa nova tune and Flavia’s Brazilian smooth accent, and then suddenly you wake up, slapped in the face by rough hip-hop metrics and rhymes about growing up in one of the city’s favelas.

Take it or leave it, Flavia Coelho’s shows, as much as her music, are intense experiences that you have to live from their beginning to their end. Every tune she plays is a world of its own, but there’s a fil-rouge that links and keeps them together. That is Flavia’s conscious and unconscious storytelling. Once on stage, she fully exposes herself and her life, there’s no filter attached, so much so, that you can’t be an indifferent spectator.