I play in a guitar-sax duo with Chris Bucheit and we do a fair share of bossa nova: Jobim, Gilberto, Getz, that kind of stuff. When Chris asked if I wanted to hear Bebel Gilberto in concert I said sure. My brief internet search turned up a chill, electronic version of her father’s music. I expected to be quietly entertained, a pleasant distraction from the messiness of life.
Um, it didn’t quite go as expected.
She wasn’t happy with the sound and stopped to do a sound check of the whole band. Hmmm, seems unprofessional. Lots of talking between songs, kind of hard to understand, maybe it’s a language thing. Weird stuff to talk about, though: something about being the black sheep of her family, she needs some lipstick, they write bad things about her, she hasn’t gotten together with her band in a while, sorry for the mistakes, sorry for this, sorry for that. Okay, definitely unprofessional.
Oh no, she’s wound herself up in her microphone cord and having a hard time getting untangled. Good, it’s fixed. Wait, it’s not. She walks briskly across stage, the cord catches and yanks her and she barely avoids falling over. Aggggh! This is uncomfortable to watch.
There is no setlist. Long gaps between songs as she talks with the band off-mic trying to determine what to do next. At one point she hollers out, what song should we do now?
It keeps getting worse. “Surprise,” she yells. She starts singing Stevie Wonder’s, “Isn’t She Lovely.” What’s the surprise? Her band doesn’t know the tune. She stands in front of the guitarist and tries to teach him the strumming rhythm and pitches. The guitarist smiles painfully and tries to figure out the song.
Now what’s going on? She’s brought the band to the front of stage. They’re all bowing, and she’s thanking Madison. End of show after 45 minutes? Well, no. The band must know better. She disappears but they resume their spots and play light filler music. A few minutes later she’s back. Like my wife said, her manager or someone must’ve pushed her back out.
Meanwhile there’s a steady stream to the exits. I’m so embarrassed for this lady, I can’t even look any more. Will Chris feel bad if we split, too? What to do?
More off-key singing, nonsensical rambling, and me squirming in my chair. I don’t remember the last straw. I think it was when she forgot the words and starting singing nonsense. Sorry, Chris, gotta go. And Chris is saying he’s sorry, too.
Back home and on the internet I find many concert reviewers had similar experiences. My favorite headline: ”What the hell was that?” Most assume she’s drunk. Whatever is the problem, Bebel, please get some help!