From the 5th of May to the 7th of June, England’s largest art festival Brighton Fringe is back with diverse range of art, performance and music events.
As part of the Fringe, Komedia plays host to the beautifully melancholic show, Fado. The music was performed by some extremely talented musicians: the Portuguese Claudia Aurora and her band. This wasn’t the first time they played in Brighton, and certainly not the last. As Claudia said “I love Brighton. I think it is my sixth time here and I’ll always want to come back.”
Fado is a deeply expressive, yet highly lyrical form of urban folk music, written and sung in Portuguese. It is about sadness, personal loss, destiny, betrayal in love, longing and yearning that can’t be satisfied. This worked perfectly with the atmosphere of a stormy Wednesday evening – and the perfect place. In a cosy basement, hidden away from the rain, we sat in the low light and listened to the most beautiful, heart wrenching music. It’s the type of music we all feel we can relate to. That’s the beautiful thing about fado, you do not necessarily need to understand the Portuguese language to understand the beauty and passion of this music, instead it is understandable through instinct.
“People don’t understand what I’m singing, so I try to make them feel what I want them to feel. Onstage, my heart is in my mouth, and I think maybe people will see it beating.”
It seemed like the songs talked through the music and the expressions of the body. Throughout the concert, I felt – and saw – a great connection between the band members, which created accordance with the audience. The band members gave a chance for every instrument being played to be heard together and separately, giving a nice and clear rhythm to the music. I remember an especially exceptional guitar solo on acoustic guitar which wowed everyone. Before some of the songs, Claudia Aurora gave a brief description of the stories connected to the meaning of the songs she was to sing.
On the stage, the cello was played by Pavlos Carvalho; guitars by Andres Garcia and Javier Moreno, who is a co-song writer of Claudia Aurora; and double bass played by Jon Short.
Claudia Aurora moved away from Porto, her hometown, in 2003 and her homesickness inspired her to sing Fado. ‘Fado’ means destiny and faith, and this feeling of loss took her to one of the biggest journeys of her life. She sang traditional fado, which she learned from her grandmother and later, wrote her own songs. Since that, she performed in numerous venues in the UK, and outside. She has sung at Womad Festival, Kings Place, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Union Chapel in London and at Hall and St George’s in Bristol.
The band opened the night with a traditional fado. After that, the second song was Silêncio, which is probably her most well-known track, as in 2011, Claudia released an album under the same name. We then heard the song Mariquinha (Little Mary). Mary fell in love with a man, but sadly the man doesn’t love her back, therefore she cries out her sadness. It was a sad song, however the audience enjoyed clapping along with the song.
The songs were mostly fado, but the band mixed it up with the next song; a fado-bossa nova, where the double bass and a single guitar dominated. After that, the song Amantes (Lovers) followed the line, from the new, 2016 album Mulher do Norte (Women of the North). This song was about a short but intense love between two people, as one of them unfortunately died too early, leaving the other behind in sorrow. A typical fado topic.
To keep the mood up, the band turned away from fado for one song; they played the famous Brazilian song Tico-Tico to bring the energy back up. It worked, I could tell from the audience’s sudden multiplying head movements, it was a lovely cheerful song.
‘Enough of fun!’ said Claudia humorously after we got cheered up, and the band continued with a traditional fado from 1952. The time of fascism and censorship in Portugal led the Portuguese people to express their feelings through metaphors in fado music, because to voice their thoughts out loud was forbidden. This song was the most heart-breaking and emotionally moving, because of the resonance of feelings in Claudia’s voice.
After this, the band played lighter fados like the song from the new album, Havemos de ir a Viana (We shall go to Wien) and an older song Cigana (Gipsy Girl) from the album Silêncio (2011). This song told the love story of a beautiful gypsy girl, who fell in with a man outside her tribe, which meant she had to make the decision to either run away with him, or stay with her tribe.
The last song (before the band was encored back onto the stage) was Promessa (Promise) which is a song of hope and love. This is not a common combination in Fado. Although as Claudia said: ‘I thought it is a good time starting it… Even fado needs hope.’ she laughed. The very last song was an acoustic performance, Primavera (Spring) which was the first song turned Claudia to sing fado music.
After a big breath from the overflowing emotions, we made our way outside back into the rain, but just before, we even had the chance to have a chat with the singer, who gave us very kind and helpful advice about singing and we thanked her for the beautiful night. We will definitely see her performing again.