Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Paco de Lucía (1947—2014)

Francisco Sánchez Gómez, better known as Paco de Lucía, the greatest flamenco guitarist of all time, died this morning aged 66.

I was lucky enough to see the man himself performing with his sextet, plus a dancer, almost twenty years ago, when I was living in Trieste. To be precise, the concert was on 27 October 1994, in the (long gone) venue called Discoteca Hippodrome di Monfalcone. I am sure one day somebody will compile a complete list of Paco’s concerts, but today it is all that I can find. I went there with several friends and colleagues, none of whom knew anything about Paco de Lucía. We were a bit late, driving all the way from Trieste and waiting in a long queue, but it was OK because the concert started late anyway, almost one hour after the announced time, by which point I thought my friends are going to murder me. It was noisy as in a real hippodrome and everybody was smoking. And then the lights went off, and Paco was on stage. He started the concert with two or three pieces performed either solo or with hand-clapping as the sole accompaniment. One of these songs was La Barrosa.

The second and last time I saw Paco was in Liverpool in 1996. (Can’t remember or find neither the name of the venue nor the exact date. Sorry!) It was a weekday, so I took a day off. Tamara and I were travelling from Leeds. We arrived way too early, spent a few hours walking around the city and did not like it much, and (very wisely) timed how long does it take to get to the bus station. The concert started... you got it, one hour after the announced time. It was as great as the Monfalcone concert, although I think the band had better rapport with the Italian audience. We had to leave during the encores to catch our late night bus back to Leeds.

Today, searching for Paco’s music at YouTube, I came across this 1986 Soviet documentary containing the live performances in Moscow earlier that year. I hope my Spanish-speaking friends can filter out the (rather embarrassing) Russian voice-over and enjoy the music of Paco & The Sextet at the peak of their powers.

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