Friday, 19 January 2018

Loving Vincent

a film by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman

Vincent van Gogh created all his 864 paintings in the last eight years of life. It took about this time and an effort of 125 painters to create Loving Vincent — “the world’s first fully painted feature film”. Once again, Monopol is the only place screening it in Las Palmas. This time, however, it is a Spanish dub, and not particularly good one. (Unexplicably, the title was left in English.) I am looking forward to its DVD release to hear the voices of English and Irish actors. Visually, the movie is stunning. I quite liked how the colour “present” (animated van Gogh paintings, or, rather, the anmation inspired by van Gogh paintings) is interspersed with black-and-white flashbacks which look more realistic. Has to be watched more than once!

Monday, 15 January 2018

De Chambao a Lamari

Fifteen years after Flamenco Chill, Chambao decided to call it a day. I learned about their planned farewell some six months ago. At the time, it did not enter my head to travel to Madrid in the middle of winter to see them. The last concert of Canteca de Macao changed that. I have very fond memories of Chambao’s Santander gig three years ago; here was the last chance to see them again, and I was not missing it.

Then, in mid-December, La Mari posted a video on her Facebook page explaining why she was saying goodbye to Chambao. Of the founding members, she is the only remaining one and every day she moves further and further away from “flamenco chill” style. Honestly I didn’t feel that convinced. The bands evolve, the styles change, the members come and go, the name can stay or, well, go. All these years, apart from her work with Chambao, La Mari did zillions of collaborations under her own name (Ojo de Culebra with Lila Downs and Somos luz with Macaco are the first that spring to mind). But, in the end, it’s up to the artist. In any case, Chambao as we know it was saying goodbye on 13 of January 2018.

I checked the weather. After the previous weekend’s snowfall, I was worrying that I can get stranded even before reaching the capital. Friday 12 January was crisp and sunny and the forecast for the following week was likewise bright. It was only Saturday and Sunday when the sky above Madrid was weeping, probably also feeling emotional. I didn’t mind that.

So... Was it worth flying from Gran Canaria to Madrid just for that night? Of three solid hours of music that I love? Hell yes. From the opening theme, Chambao from Endorfinas en la mente, straight to the grand finale of Ahí estás tú, which saw all the guest artists on stage and sounded as epic as Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. And speaking of guests: what a thoroughly stellar company we had! I never saw Ojos de Brujo live while they were active — and here they were, Max and Marinah! We just said goodbye to Canteca de Macao, but look, Anita and Chiki turned up! And I totally didn’t expect Jorge Pardo to be there, for on Friday he was playing in Las Palmas at the V Festival Flamenco Romí (I hope he didn’t fly with Ryanair as I did). But probably the biggest surprise was the very first guest: Pepa, La Mari’s mum. I think their duet didn’t leave a single eye dry.

As for the venue: compared to Palacio de Vistalegre, WiZink Center is an improvement. More space, no drunken brawls, but, annoyingly, still a lot of pot smokers in da house (should I stop writing about that? It increasingly looks like a new norm here.) The acoustics could have been better too. I appreciate the audience singing — why, I was doing it myself, to the degree that when I woke up Sunday morning, I thought I was about to lose my voice — but it shouldn’t be louder than the band! Ah well. Nothing is perfect.

Thank you, Chambao, I’m sure we’ll meet again, no matter what’s your name. Didn’t you promise us that?

volveré a encontrarme con vosotros
volveré a sonreír en la mañana
volveré con lagrima en los ojo
mirar al cielo y dar las gracias

Guest artists
(in partially alphabetical order, with apologies to those whom I forgot to mention)

Sunday, 31 December 2017

WOMAD Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

This year, WOMAD came (back) to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It took place in Parque de Santa Catalina, 10—12 November. Exactly when I wasn’t there. Well, I can’t be everywhere. It must have been great.

Fortunately, on 3 December RTVE aired a two-hour program with highlights of the event. The video will be available until 3 May 2018.

Participants (in order of appearance)

  • Papaya (Canarias)
  • 101 Brass Band (Tenerife)
  • Tu Otra Bonita (Madrid)
  • Miroca Paris (Cape Verde)
  • Orkesta Mendoza (Tucson, Arizona)
  • Beating Heart (London, UK)
  • Horace Andy (Jamaica)
  • Profecía Crew (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)
  • Kuarembó (Canarias)
  • Hindi Zahra (Morocco)
  • Niño de Elche (Spain)
  • Bombino (Niger)
  • La Dame Blanche (Cuba)
  • The Brand New Heavies (London, UK)

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Perfect Strangers and Link Floyd live

Deep Purple or Pink Floyd? When I were a lad, this question would really upset me: I grew up with these bands. Thankfully, this time around I didn’t have to choose between the two, thanks to our own Canarian tribute acts, Perfect Strangers and Link Floyd, playing their end-of-the-year concerts in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Timur, I and Harold attended both shows. In fact, we would never came to the second gig (Link Floyd at Teatro Guiniguada) if Emilio Sánchez, the vocalist of Perfect Strangers, hadn’t told us about it during their show in CICCA! That’s advertising Canarian-style for you.

Perfect Strangers played the vintage DP, with all the major Mark II and III hits: Child in Time, Speed King, Highway Star, Lazy, Woman from Tokyo, Mistreated, Soldier of Fortune, Knocking at Your Back Door, not to mention the very Perfect Strangers and that obligatory one about some stupid with a flare gun... There were surprises too, very much in Purple spirit, such as the Stormbringer quote within Burn, the Mark I first hit Hush, and one hell (or high water) of a drum solo in Space Truckin’.

Perfect Strangers

    Dave O’Connor: guitar
    Mathias Klatte: keyboards
    Javier Negrín: drums
    Emilio Sánchez: vocals
    Aaron Santana: bass

One week later, Link Floyd took us on an epic journey from Astronomy Domine and Echoes to (and through) The Wall. Man they can do it: like the entire darker second side of The Dark Side of the Moon, Pigs, Dogs... and the first five songs of The Wall plus Run Like Hell for an encore, how’s that? The band were so superbly faithful to the original that at times I wished they were, um, not and improvised more, or played the guitar solo on the sax or vice versa, or something. Anyway, it was magnificent. (Also, the sound at Guiniguada was much better than that at CICCA.) How I wish you were here.

Link Floyd

    Besay Brehcist: lead guitar, vocals
    Sergio Casquero: guitar, vocals
    Javier Guerra: bass
    Fran Navarro: drums
    Rafael Santana: keyboards
    Kenneth Suarez: guitars, keyboards, vocals

    Ángel Fernández Bordón: saxophones
    Patty Brichis: backing vocals
    Virna Ceballos: backing vocals
    Violeta Millares: backing vocals

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


a film by Anahí Berneri

Alanis is a story of a few days from life of María aka Alanis (Sofía Gala), a single mother and a prostitute. A story refreshingly told without glamourising her profession or portraying her as a victim or judging her. I’m sure, it’s deemed to be labelled “controversial” — society is more at ease with women cleaning toilets than being sex workers. María is neither looking for a prince charming nor going to “change her ways”. Magnificent work; shame that you most likely won’t see it.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Cuentos de Odesa

by Isaac Babel
translated by Marta Sánchez-Nieves
illustrated by Iratxe López de Munáin

In spite, or maybe precisely thanks to, his famous surname, Isaac Babel (1894—1940) remains little known in the West. This slim volume, published in 2014, introduces to Spanish readers the first four of Babel’s Tales of Odessa (Одесские рассказы), viz. El rey (Король), Qué sucedió en Odesa (Как это делалось в Одессе), El padre (Отец) and Liubka la Cosaca (Любка Казак), lovingly retold by Marta Sánchez-Nieves and accompanied by some wonderful illustrations by Iratxe López de Munáin. Great work Ediciones Nevsky — I hope the rest of Cuentos follow suit soon!

Los maleantes se miraban, y solo Benia parecía no darse cuenta y estaba desconsolado.
— Me están estropeando la fiesta — gritaba realmente desesperado —, queridos, por favor os lo pido, comed, bebed...
Pero en ese instante apareció en el patio el mismo joven que había venido al empezar la tarde.
— Rey — dijo —, tengo que decirle un par de palabras...
— Bueno, pues dilas — respondió el Rey —, tú siempre tienes un par de palabras de reserva...
— Rey — dijo el joven desconocido, y empezó a soltar risitas —, es que es muy divertido, el cuartel de policía está ardiendo como una vela...
Los comerciantes enmudecieron, los maleantes sonrieron. La sexagenaria Manka, la fundadora de los bandidos de arrabal, se llevó dos dedos a la boca y lanzó un silbido tan estridente que sus vecinos se echaron a un lado.
— Mania, no está en el trabajo — le advertió Benia —, más sangre fría, Mania...
Налетчики переглянулись тогда друг с другом. И только Беня, ничего не замечавший, был безутешен.
— Мине нарушают праздник, — кричал он, полный отчаяния, — дорогие, прошу вас, закусывайте и выпивайте...
Но в это время во дворе появился тот самый молодой человек, который приходил в начале вечера.
— Король, — сказал он, — я имею вам сказать пару слов...
— Ну, говори, — ответил Король, — ты всегда имеешь в запасе пару слов...
— Король, - произнес неизвестный молодой человек и захихикал, — это прямо смешно, участок горит, как свечка...
Лавочники онемели. Налетчики усмехнулись. Шестидесятилетняя Манька, родоначальница слободских бандитов, вложив два пальца в рот, свистнула так пронзительно, что ее соседи покачнулись.
— Маня, вы не на работе, — заметил ей Беня, — холоднокровней, Маня...

Monday, 18 December 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

a film by Rian Johnson

Yesterday, Timur and I went to see The Last Jedi (all of them) in Monopol, which is the only place here that offers it in VOSE. Episode VIII is the second Star Wars movie that I’ve ever watched on a big screen, the first one being rather dismal Revenge of the Sith that Yuri and I saw some 12 years ago.

If a real Star Wars fan you are, love hate never forget it you will. It’s probably the best worst most Starry Warry movie this Millennium Falcon (well, I The Force Awakens see didn’t). I myself quite enjoyed it. My main issue with this film is the lack of proper baddies. I mean, Supreme Leader, played by Gollum, is some kind of Snoke joke, and Kylo Ren is simply not bad enough — give us at least a GygaRen! I liked DJ (well done Benicio del Toro) but he’s not a real villain either. Also, I tend to agree with Natasha Lomas that it would be the best to finish the Star Wars saga right here. Instead, next Christmas endure Han-less, Luke-less and most likely Leia-less Episode IX we must.