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Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeOriginally formed out of two bands of brothers in the south of France, the Gipsy Kings have been an international phenomenon with their "rumba Gitano" sound that mixes flamenco guitar and the South American rumba rhythm since their 1987 self-titled release. On the tail end of a worldwide tour in support of their 2006 release Pasajero, the brothers Reyes and Baliardo presented nothing strikingly new with their performance at the Riverside Theatre, but they proved no less entrancing by the end of their two-set show.
While the night's set list would start out a bit lethargic, the misty "Un Amor" was worth the wait as Nicolas Reyes put on an impressive vocal display in the stylings of his father, the famed flamenco singer Jose Reyes. The title track of the new album would follow soon after and as a perfect example of their trademark sound, the zesty tune did much to get the crowd stirring. To end the first set, the Gipsy Kings delivered their danceable "Djobia Djoba" a bit slower than usual but still managed to get the crowd up on their feet. The second set began with some mysterious soundscapes that turned into entrancing flurries of six acoustic guitars being strummed and plucked, none with a pic but with fiery passion from bare fingers, as equally impassioned vocals came from Canut, Andre and Patchai Reyes. Fluttering over the storm of rhythm and voice was Tonino Baliardo, who commanded speedy and dexterous solos from his fingertips whenever given the nod.
"Todos Todos" infused a Spanish football-like chant into the perfomance, while "Recuerdos a Zucarados" bordered on TexMex sounds-- both inspired dance and much cheering. The popular "Vamos A Bailar" ended the second set in a rowdy fashion, and an encore performance of "Bamboleo," which featured Nicolas' and Tonino's sons, ended a night of music that took listeners back in time and perhaps presented the future of the Gipsy Kings sound.
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