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Portuguese singer seduces Stones, Prince & crowd at the Dakota

  • Blog Post by: Jon Bream
  • February 14, 2012 - 3:23 AM

Ana Moura/ New York Times photo

 

A few thoughts after seeing Portuguese fado star Ana Moura’s packed show Monday at the Dakota Jazz Club.

* There are good reasons why she gets hyped for being loved by the Rolling Stones and Prince. She interpreted two Stones songs on Monday — the fittingly moody "No Expectations" and the oddly bluegrassy "Brown Sugar" (both of which she recorded for a Stones project). Prince attended her show on Sunday night, blew kisses from his balcony seat and joined Moura for dinner after the show.

* Moura, 32, has a mesmerizing manner. Like many fado singers, she acted out her songs with dramatic gestures. But the bewitching, brown-haired singer also seduced with her swaying hips, shoulder shakes and tight, sleeveless black dress with a large diamond-shaped cutout in her lower back.

* Her smokey voice was a bit thin but filled with heart-tugging emotion and pained intensity, which is what is expected of a fadista.

* Moura’s repertoire was not what one might expect. She explained in English that she was doing musical fado and traditional fado, which means taking traditional melodies and setting new poems or lyrics to them. But her material was not heavy on the kind of melancholy, often mournful ballads associated with fado. She essayed many uptempo tunes to rhythms that could be variously described as waltz, tango and even polka.

* Despite being sung in Portuguese (save for the bilingual Stones tunes), several numbers felt familiar because of their Mediterranean sounds. One piece suggested Jackson Browne’s "Linda Paloma" as rendered by the Eagles.

* Moura’s three-man band was excellent, especially the baby-faced fellow on Portuguese guitarra. His finger picking was fast and true, creating a sound that was a cross between a mandolin and a bouzouki.

* Although it didn’t match my experience at a fado house in Lisbon, Moura’s was a generous and entertaining 95-minute presentation, complete with clap-alongs, sing-alongs (she tried to teach us Portuguese) and a well-earned standing ovation.

 

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