Performance: Thursday, August 25, 2011, 8:00 PM
The Gipsy Kings marked their fifth appearance at Ravinia this evening since first coming to Highland Park, Illinois in 2005. The band played two sets, 45 minutes and 50 minutes respectively, taking a 25-minute intermission.
The Gipsy Kings are derived from the Reyes (Spanish for “Kings”) and Baliardo families, both hailing from the gypsy camps (formed following the 1930s Spanish Civil War) located in the South of France. Their music has been called Rumba Flamenco, a mix of indigenous traditional Spanish flamenco, sprinkled with pop hooks, which the Gipsy Kings have brought to worldwide audiences since their formation during the 1970s.
The “Flamenco Beatles” certainly delivered tonight with a rousing assortment of hits, including, “Djobi, Djoba,” “Bem, Bem, Maria,” “A Ti aTi,” “A Tu Vera,” “Un Amor,” and a great deal of others. Every song, whether a fast salsa or lamenting ballad, contain all the traits that make listening (and watching) the Gipsy Kings so enjoyable: Passionate lead and harmony vocals; melodically rich themes; full and vigorous guitar playing, usually featuring guitar master Tonino Baliardo; all accentuated by syncopated rhythmic punches.
Being a percussionist/set drummer myself, the unsung heroes of the night – which is the same unit I’ve seen with them twice before – has got to be their touring group rhythm section. These four devils performed with such authority and tightness, driving out the different beats and tempos to form a flawless foundation of sound for the Gipsy Kings to build upon. Set 2 allowed these masters, Quentin Boursy (drums), Frederic Breton (keyboards), Bernard Paganotti (bass), and Rodolfo Pacheco (percussion) to shine during their solos, interacting with the audience that enhanced the show wonderfully.
The Gipsy Kings followed this by ending with their hit, “Volare,” coming back for an encore of their mega-hit, “Bamboleo” – performed to the Spanish-styled moves of about 25 to 30 girls climbing onto the stage from the audience. Not a bad way to end the show…
If you haven’t heard of the Gipsy Kings before, I encourage you to get up, shake off the stupor and RUN to your nearest music store. Being the world music chart dominators that they are means that even Wal-Mart will carry their greatest hits collections. Keep an eye on their website for upcoming tours (which they generally hit the United States yearly) and make sure to see them! You won’t be disappointed!