On September 25th, Marisa Monte returned to the UK after a four year absence to a sold out Barbican. She is unlikely to have won many new fans as the auditorium was crammed full of adoring Brazilians, yet if this was anyone’s first taste of Marisa then they would have undoubtedly been wooed by her oozing charisma and hypnotic tones
The list of adjectives used to describe her voice is endless; powerful, versatile, soaring, sultry — yet one word above all others encapsulates the appeal — sexy. It’s a voice that sends shivers down your spine and one that easily, effortlessly filled the cavernous Barbican.
Marisa opened, the show with ‘Infinito’, the first track on her new album, and remained on stage for nearly two hours singing a mix of samba classics, tracks from her own back catalogue and more recent offerings. The best received were songs from Tribalistas her collaboration with fellow stars of Brazilian contemporary music Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown — the trio through with which she achieved global fame. She was joined on stage by a nine-piece band yet still managed to demonstrate her own musical prowess picking up the guitar, bass and cavocinho or miniature guitar.
Marisa sung only in Portuguese, yet addressing the crowd in English she built an easy rapport. When she first left the stage, the theatre was filled with pleas for ‘mias’ or ‘more’ to which she gladly obliged performing a gentle rendition of ‘Não Va Embora’ (Don’t Go Away). Further calls for mais elicited a two more songs, dancing in the aisle and a standard ovation. This was an intimate concert and a rare chance for those in the UK to catch a glimpse of a true star and the ruling queen of MPB (Brazilian Popular Music).