I knew Millennium Park was a beautiful place (yeah, even with all of the stuff crammed into it and the slight tinge of amusement park…) but I’d never seen a concert there before. What a great place to see live music on a nice summer night. The free general admission seating worked out great. Even though it was crowded and I showed up just a few minutes before starting time, I walked into the pavilion and easily found a seat in the second row right in front of the stage. Frank Gehry’s architecture created an interesting backdrop for the music.
All of that being said, the security at the concert venue was ridiculous. These spoil-sports vainly tried to enforce a rule against dancing in the pavilion (it’s apparently allowed out on the lawn, but not in the area closest to the stage). Maybe that rule makes sense for the many classical concerts held here, but with Seu Jorge and his percussionists going at it wildly – and then with Amadou & Mariam getting into African grooves – the dancing was unstoppable. Even at the end, the ushers were trying to keep people from dancing in the few feet of space right in front of the stage.
Anyway, both acts were fabulous. I had some trouble really getting into Seu Jorge’s 2005 album Cru after being wowed by his concert last year at Logan Square Auditorium. It’s a fine record, but not nearly as exciting as his live show. Tonight’s concert verified my impression from last year – that he’s a vibrant performer with a rich voice. I love the way his voice creaks its way around the lower notes. And his band, mostly percussionists who switch off on playing ukelele, knows how to get an infectious beat going. Jorge of course played a couple of the David Bowie covers that he has become known for. I hope he tries something similar with songs by other artists.
Last year, I saw Seu Jorge and Amadou & Mariam on consecutive days at the Chicago World Music Festival, so it was a real pleasure to see both acts on the same bill this time. Amadou & Mariam were marvelous – with Mariam’s voice in fine form, and Amadou’s guitar solos sounding as good as ever. It took a few songs for the crowd to get back into the dancing spirit (everyone might have been a little worn out by Seu Jorge), but then the dancing resumed.