Photos: Rafael Manjavacas
Vicente Amigo, accompanied by Añil Fernández (second guitar), Paquito González (percussion), Ewen Vernal (bass), Rafael de Utrera (voice) and Los Mellis (chorus and rhythm).
Vicente, “amigo” of adversity
There are times when it seems useless to fight adversity, troubles just pile up, one on top of another, and the best thing to do in these cases is call it quits. Yesterday it seemed the heavenly bodies were aligned in such a way that it made for a series of events, one stranger than the next. From intense heat, we moved on to cold, and rain was the backdrop for a grey day. And the maestro took note: “I get to Madrid, and it starts raining”. I'm talking about Vicente Amigo, whose performance opened the eleventh edition of Suma Flamenca de Madrid, debuting a new director, Aída Gómez, who brought some new changes. Which also were responsible for some strange happenings; such as very limited press passes…many colleagues were unable to cover the event…while some of the reserved seats were empty, or occupied by people who had no idea what they were going to see. I think these are points that need to be cleaned up.
Well into the recital, and with a cold audience that filled the Sala Roja of the Teatros Canal, genius appeared. Because Vicente is one of the few who merits that distinction. His perfection, creativity, speed and extensive command of technique make him an incomparable musician, and I would even dare to say, a worthy heir to the maestro of maestros. From Paco, he's even got the vest and the mannerisms.
An overhead spot set the mood for the maestro with those taranto sounds of his. He was a little fidgety, concerned about not receiving a good signal from his monitor. After some gestures with his head, he gave up and jumped head-first into the material giving a majestically subtle soleá, and picking up the tempo to turn it into bulería. The participation of two backup musicians to keep rhythm was useless, the mikes were still not functioning.
The musicians' dissatisfaction set the general mood of the concert, until the maestro said: “this reminds me of when I was starting out and we all played with the amplification there was, however it came out, it's the same tonight”. That woke up the audience, and he let his hair down to change the dynamic. His fandangos de Huelva are an authentic museum piece, and even more so when backed up with the percussion of Paquito González, the bass of Ewen Vernal, second guitar Añil Fernández, the choruses of Los Mellis and the singing of Rafael de Utrera. But where the maestro really towers over other mortals is in the binary rhythms (rumbas, tangos, tanguillos), that's where he brings out the heavy artillery. Hypnotic precision at amazing speed. Superhuman. The man from Córdoba chose to give us two bulerías, one of them worthy of mention, because it was the live premiere of a piece that will be on his upcoming recording. Very flamenco, and with a Jerez feel. You could see he was beginning to feel good.
Only geniuses can afford to laugh at adversity, only they come out on top. The objective was more or less accomplished as expressed at the beginning: “let's see if we can move emotions with our art”. And the effect remains. The audience asked for an encore, and the maestro was happy to comply. He knew he'd won the battle, and all that was left was celebration. They say the sun even came out, and the sky cleared while Vicente gave life to his guitar. Without a doubt it cleared up.