My ears are still ringing just slightly after spending last night at The Roseland watching Manu Chao. There's no one in the last ten years whose music I've loved like I love his. It seems simple and repetitive but really there's a so much going on, so many rhythms and textures and languages. There's no one like him and he rarely tours the US so I was stunned that he chose to come to Portland.
I've had a number of false starts getting to see this guy. We were on the verge of blowing all the money we'd saved for The Dark Lord's bar mitzvah last summer so we could fly down to see Manu in Berkeley but the date conflicted with an old friend's wedding. When this year's first tour dates were announced, I immediately bought tickets for Sasquatch despite the huge production I knew that would be: the six hour drive, staying over, all the other bands I didn't want to sit through...but I was willing to put up with it all just for a chance to see Manu live. Luckily I was able to move those tickets along to someone who really wanted to make that trip.
I am not a concertgoer in general. Zoo concerts are about my speed these days and even they can be too crowded and loud for me. Nonetheless I needed to be at this show early for a good spot. We were relieved to see that we weren't the oldest folks in line. The crowd was good mix of all kinds of folks: lots of Latinos, the expected hippie kids, a very proper looking French couple, and lots of folks our age who've no doubt loved Manu as long as we have.
I made it clear to The Spouse that I wasn't going to be lost in the back where I wouldn't be able to see anything and he generously stayed right between me and some of the more boisterous folks. What a guy!
The show started a bit late, there were clearly some sound issues that were eventually sorted out. And then the band came on stage to wild applause. Once they started playing, I don't think they really stopped at all--one song blended seamlessly into the next. Everyone around me seemed to know the lyrics and we all enjoyed singing along. The band mixed up lyrics and melodies from time to time, completely changing the nature of some of the familiar songs making them into something completely different. They played nearly all of my favorites (only Minha Galera was missing) and U really enjoyed the expereince of hearing them live.
The band's energy was incredible--I honestly do no know how they can do this night after night. Manu's a few years older than I am but he just comes out and plays and sings and dances and jumps around like crazy. It was great to be up so close to watch the band members interact and play off each other and the audience--I would have missed all that had I been further back in the crowd.
It was super hot and I was achy and wildly thirsty when it ended. My ears were ringing, I'd been elbowed and stepped on, and knocked about more than I would have liked. All this was a very small price to pay to see Manu live. It really was fantastic. I'd waited for this for so long that I had feared nothing would live up to my expectations--how marvelous that I was dead wrong on that.
Now I need to go pick up the kids and get on with my regularly scheduled adult life. But it's nice to know that even responsible middle aged mamas can have a wild night from time to time.