One of Gilberto Gil's first hits is called "Domingo no Parque" - Sunday in the park. Gil sang it in 1967 during a televised music festival with the fabulous Os Mutantes, and although another song won first place, "Domingo no Parque" launched the Brazilian's career and became the signature tune of Tropicalia, the glittering genre Gil founded along with Caetano Veloso and other artists.
Gil didn't sing "Domingo" here two days ago, but it was impossible not to recall this electrifying song, for the simple reason that the show took place on Sunday in Ra'anana's Amphipark.
Only three months ago Gil gave a high level concert of refined, acoustic Brazilian pop at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv. The show in Ra'anana, in the open air, was completely different: rhythmic and electric, with a party atmosphere and not that of a concert. Only one thing remained unchanged: the quality. This too was an excellent performance.
In the show three months ago there were no percussion instruments, just two acoustic guitars and a (divine ) cello. In the show this week, the percussion section was double-barreled with two great drummers. One of them played very fast, mainly on a triangle, and the second on a Brazilian bass drum he hit at rhythmic intervals. The combination of the high, fast triangle (tuka taka tuka taka tuka taka tuka taka ) and the low, slow bass (boom - pause - boom boom - pause - boom - pause - boom boom ) created a pleasurable dynamic that made the music fly, and Gil and the other musicians (on accordion, violin, guitar and bass ) glided on.
The songs, Gil explained, represented the folk and pop music of northeast Brazil. Since I'm no Brazilian music expert, it's hard for me to say how it differs from samba. Certainly not in its effect on the audience, which attended in goodly numbers (although the park was not full ) and danced happily and energetically.
But not only for the beat. In the middle of the show, Gil told the audience that "the music of northeast Brazil is philosophically profound." He slowed the pace and sang the lovely, poetic "Lamento Sertanejo."
Afterwards, he quickened the beat again with a dizzying instrumental piece, and when he sang his encore, "Menina Baiana," the park in Ra'anana felt for a moment like the central square in Salvador, Gil's hometown.
Gil conducted the show with great charm, lightheartedness and an energy that belied his 69 years. When the concert was over, I overheard a woman in the audience say, "I'd like a grandfather like that."