(Image courtesy of PacoDeLucia.com)
I’m more familiar with Paco de Lucia’s reputation than his music.
But after witnessing his wonderful 105-minute performance Sunday at the O’Shaughnessy at St. Kate’s, I have a better appreciation of the music and the reputation.
In his native Spain, the 64-year-old is regarded as a modern flamenco guitar god. He was enthusiastically received in St. Paul, with frequent shout-outs from fans in Spanish (though he spoke once briefly to the faithful in English).
His guitar work was masterful, as elegant melody lines often melted into marvelously fluid and fast picking that flamenco is famous for. He made it seem effortless despite his stern countenance of concentration.
After an opening solo number, de Lucia was joined by three singers and later a percussionist, acoustic guitarist, electric bassist and electric keyboardist/harmonica player. While the synth strings were annoying on one selection, the band added texture, depth and variety to the sound. In the final piece before the encore, de Lucia and fellow guitarist Antonio Sanchez had a nifty exchange on their instruments, as de Lucia’s guitar came out of the speakers on one side of the stage and Sanchez’s out of the other side.
The singing of David Maldonado and Duquende had a certain chant-like quality. Even though he has sung with Lucia for years, Duquende seemed like the odd man out, with his pink shirt (everyone else was dressed in black and white) and crazed vocalizing that seemed like he was exorcising demons.
The sideman who generated the greatest response was Farru, a flamenco dancer. Looking like he came out of central casting with his long dark hair, gleaming gold earrings, toned body and all-black outfit, he danced heroically on a slightly elevated wooden floor, with every stomp and stamp picked up by microphones that helped spread the percussive brilliance throughout the theater. The stutter/flutter steps were amazing. And how ‘bout the flailing arms combined with the furious feet? It was like Spain’s answer to Gregory Hines and Savion Glover in one body. He earned a standing ovation.
So did de Lucia at night’s end. He was extraordinary and so was the entire program.