Devendra Banhart in concert (Paradiso, Amsterdam)

First Rodrigo, then Devendra

Two necessary components of any enjoyable evening at the concert hall are: a) good company, and b) great music. Both were in place last night at club Paradiso, where I had the good luck to enjoy the wonderfully weird art of Venezuelan American singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart.

A small revelation for me was the opening act: Brazilian guitarist, singer and songwriter Rodrigo Amarante. His soft playing on the guitar accompanied perfectly his mellow, soothing voice. Meanwhile, his tunes produced a mesmerizing effect, making for an excellent opening to Banhart’s own entry to the stage.

And then, a pleasant surprise! Rodrigo comes back on stage, this time as a member of Devendra’s backing band. Having met back in 2006 at Tim Festival  in Rio de Janeiro, the two artists had also collaborated in the song Rosa from Devendra’s album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon.

Banhart live!

Surrounded by a few more excellent musicians, Banhart performed songs from his latest album Mala as well as older tunes, including a long magnificent rendition of Seahorse. The show closed with Carmensita, probably Banhart’s most widely recognized tune, causing a slight frenzy among the crowd.

Seeing Devendra Banhart live was a gratifying experience, especially as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. His unique singing style, self-mockery and quasi-improvised choreography on stage was a perfect match to his delightful tunes and bittersweet lyrics. His hair may not be as long and his outfits not as extravagant, yet Banhart surely knows how to put up a great show.

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