It is officially the month of great gigs. ARTE Festival 2023 returns this season and we are spoilt for choice. Out of the already spectacular program, I thought choosing Chilly Gonzales’ would be apt. There is a certain expectation, of course, to watch any year-end show on my work desk.
With a document opened on my right screen (because I have an article with a looming deadline), my eyes move to the left screen and clicked on the play button. I thought an introduction by the host would take a few more minutes, but was surprised that the piano went straight for it. The energy is present from the get go.
Gonzales’ music felt like a modern incarnation of Debussy, flowing and fluid like waves on a windy day. The high notes sparkled like moonlight on the ocean’s surface, while the introductory piano solo wound its way through a tonality so temporarily agreeable for only a few bars.
Melodies emerged organically, singing of nature’s balance, before effortlessly transitioning into beautiful jazz tunes. One by one, the band members joined Gonzales on stage, each adding a unique flavor to the ensemble.
The cello, in particular, captured the sassy and sexy essence always present in Gonzales’ music. It started subtly, but quickly synchronized with the rhythms Gonzales had already created.
The dark room, the perfectly centered stage, and the artistry of the performers all came together to raise the show’s climax. While there are chordal resolutions in the music, it is equally intense, with the Bechstein following closely.
It was a joyous reminder of the world returning to post-pandemic normalcy, and the shared experience of live music felt even sweeter after the isolation of the past few years.
As the show went on, Gonzales’ energy became contagious. The piano, serving as the driving force of the rhythm, captivated a sonic journey uniquely him. The tonality was lofty and expansive, creating a sense of dreamlike wonder as we were swept away by the music’s alluring melodies.
The connection between Gonzales and his instrument was undeniable. He poured his heart into each note, creating an emotional rollercoaster.
This wasn’t Gonzales’ first rodeo, and his experience shone through in his masterful stage presence. The show was a refreshing departure from the stuffiness of typical concert halls, making for a perfect weeknight escape.
Then, when I thought it could not get any better, there it was, the voice of Bryan Adams singing Summer of ’69. Nostalgically surreal in such a live environment, I thought about the best days in my own life.
It wasn’t only the song, but also a new perspective of the leading instrument. The Bechstein shined on this stage tonight. Refreshingly, that was the long song of the night. His latest album titled French Kiss was released last September.
The intimate setting of the ARTE Festival venue immediately transported me back to the vibrant music scene of London where I lived for 9 years. Unlike the sterile environment of a recording studio, live gigs offer an irreplaceable energy and connection between the artist and the audience.