We’ve all heard at least two or three Gipsy Kings songs in our lives, but often we forget where they’ve come from. This band and I have been engaged in a long love story, beginning in my childhood when I would sit outside my auntie’s house in the south of France. Let me paint you a picture; you’re ten, the sun is here, life is good, and you have this Andalusian band to keep you company.
Before I start, let me do some background recon for you: the Gipsy Kings are originally from Arles and Montpellier, two French cities close to Spain (hence the songs being sung in Spanish). The band come from two main gitanos families, the Bayardos and Reyes – literal translation being “Kings”.
After performing at the Sydney Opera House and Bluesfest, they finally arrived in Melbourne last friday. With their Grammy Award for ‘Best World Music Album’ (2013), the band came back to Australia for the first time in five years; everyone seemed to be waiting impatiently for them to do so.
My friend Alice and I both agreed that it would definitely be the kind of music we would get down to, and were super excited to show everyone our amazing dance moves. Sadly, we arrived at the Palais Theatre and everyone was sitting quietly for the opening act; much too well behaved. Couples in their 50’s were not into jumping crazily around to the music, or so we thought. We were wrong. So wrong.
The presence of the band generated much clapping and yelling in Spanish – “Bonitos! Te quiero Nicolas!”. Some female groupies couldn’t even be stopped by security from dancing in between seats, hilarity ensued. In the end, everyone got up to hits such as “Djobi Djoba”, “Bamboleo” or “Volare” (my personal favourite).
The Gipsy Kings didn’t have to make any effort to conquer their audience. After playing a few of their old tunes to heat up the audience, one of the guitarists told us to brace ourselves for the next song. Damn, I thought, not a cheesy song?! I had no time to process this thought, as the emotion had already got to me. As I watched my partner in crime, I realised she was the same, as if the nostalgia of her younger years was slowly being released. I wasn’t the only one feeling this magnificence.
The reason I couldn’t help but smiling every time I recognised a song intro was enhanced by the fact that everyone in the theatre was emanating happiness. The atmosphere was joyful and warm on a cold Friday night.
Even if at the end people were a bit dazed, the singer thanked them in French (I felt very at home during this moment), they all cheered him loudly. And it was with a genuine satisfaction that everyone went out, many still singing on the street, as teenagers would do after a good concert. Heart warming.
Latest release: Savor Flamenco, out in 2013.
Sounds like: Armik, Paco de Lucia.
Say what? The clip “Bamboleo” has been directed by David Fincher, the director of Fight Club, or The Social Network. Oh my.