For fans of the tropicalia band Os Mutantes, May of 2006 was a momentous time -- the band reunited for the first time since 1978.
Specifically, they played a long live performance in the at London's Barbican Arts Centre, sparking off a brief tour. And in these songs, they're in wonderful form -- shimmering, richly raucous pop music wound with colourful rock'n'roll, returning to the songs that made them musical legends. No wonder the crowds scream as they play.
In fact, they scream a lot during the opening number, "Don Quixote" -- as a stately, epic march plays, you can hear whoops, yowls and cheers over the drums and horns. Then suddenly there's a triangle, a flute.... and it melts into a complex, dramatic, colourful rock intro.
Then it's time for an extended medley of their various other songs -- twining psychedelic rockers, joyously colourful tropicalia with a distinctly Brazilian flavour, rollicking psychpop full of flutes and keyboard, eerie psychedelic interludes, and some mellow little ballads sprinkled here and there. But even the quietest song has that dancey, mellow flavour.
There's no rust on this performance, even though it's been nearly thirty years since they last worked together. In fact, you'd never think that Os Mutantes had broken up in the first place -- their music is still energetic, colourful, and full of gorgeous little flourishes.
And they sound amazing live. Everything comes through crystal-clear, including all the little flutes, chimes and bells, and Sérgio Dias thanking the crowd. But the audience enthusiasm -- while very commendable and understandable -- does get a bit distracting, when you can hear shouting under some of the songs.
But in the whole expanse of this two-disc set, the instrumentation is simply mind-blowing, especially for a live performance. The roaring bass, the twisting elusive guitar, clattery drums, the retro keyboard and the Brazilian flourishes all weave into a sensual, fun-loving tapestry. The rich, full energy of this music is enough to blow you off your chair.
And Dias' vocals have gotten a bit scratchy over the years, but he can still sound mellow and joyously smooth. Occasionally he stops singing to tell the audience how to do the "choo choo samba," and announce, "So England, we love ya! You guys are wonderful! We had a great time!"
"Live at the Barbican Theatre 2006" is a triumphant return for the reformed, broken-up and reformed again Os Mutantes. Gloriously energetic and colourful, from start to finish.