Veloso is a superstar and his London concerts attract large crowds, I’m surprised I’m able to grab return tickets the night before the actual concert. It is a double-bill with Veloso introducing  Brazilian Samba star Teresa Cristina. The latter is touring her new album, Canta Cartola, where she pays homage to the great poet Cartola from the Mangueira Samba school. She hits the stage accompanied by Carlinhos Sete Cordas on guitar. The performance is velvety, elegant, theatrical. Cristina’s performance becomes smoother with each song, with each sip in between songs from a glass containing a golden liquid. We are all hoping she is feeding her voice a good, stiff Rum but it is only tea, she reassures the audience. I am not sure we believe her, though. Visually and musically, the whole performance is stunning. Her colourful dress perfectly fits Cristina. her deep, smooth voice, caresses our soul and I feel as if I am in the presence of an old fashioned grand dame of the musical biz, the type that does not really exist anymore. I just wish the size of the venue was suddenly reduced to an intimate setting and we were partaking in the sipping of a glass of refreshing coconut water spiked with barrel-aged, honey sweet Rum.

Cristina’s solemn performance feels far too short but we have been warned she will be back to accompany Veloso towards the end of the evening and we are not disappointed, their duet is magical.

Veloso is adored by his audience. During the performance, they dare not sing along though they know all the lyrics to every song he plays by heart. They are waiting for his permission and generouosly he will encourage his audience to singalong, but only after having exhausted his musical vein for the night. His guitar playing is delicate, he uses his velvety voice expertly and dramatically. He knows the power of a strategic pause and uses it to great effect. Veloso has been through a lot during his long career. He might be revered now, but his music and his lyrics have caused him huge problems with the powers that be. I do feel I am short-changed by the fact that I can hardly understand any of the Portuguese lyrics. Mea culpa. The highlights of his performance: a poetic rendition of the Brazilian classic Cucurrucucú Paloma, triggering moving memories in my mind (including the gorgeous scenes from Moonlight featuring Veloso’s version and Franco Battiato’s homage featured in La Voce del Padrone) and Cole Porter’s Love for Sale, a cappella, without his trusted guitar. Beautiful.

Caetano Veloso introducing Teresa Cristina, 21 April Barbican Hall

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