An Evening with Manu Chao

Seattle Paramount Theatre, Tuesday, October 12, 2010.  Front row along the barricade, stage right.  My ears rang for days, but that’s what I get when I forget to bring my earplugs.

This was the second time I’ve had the pleasure to see Manu Chao live, and although he had shaved his band down to a trio, I am glad to report that none of the high energy of the previous band’s incarnation was lost in this performance.  That first show was in Portland at the Roseland Theatre in 2007, and was one of the most energetic shows I had seen since the early 90s during the glory days of grunge here in the NW.  If anything, the show Tuesday night had the crowd going even better than the 2007 – a great example of the synergy between performer and audience feeding off one another.  This was a good thing, because early on in the show, about when his lead guitarist Madjid Fahem switched to electric guitar, the amps for the main PA dropped out and all that was left was the band’s monitor system for two or three minutes.  The band played on like the pros that they are and didn’t miss a beat or a lose an audience member.

At one point I turned around to look up into the balcony.  I’ve been to lots of shows at the Paramount, I even work there sometimes as a stagehand, and rarely have I ever seen the entire crowd on its’ feet midway through a show.  Many of the songs turned into sing-alongs… for the encores it didn’t matter whether you understood the words as long as you could chant the “yo yo whoa” refrain that recurred in medley like fashion for the last two of the three (or was it four?) encores.  When all was said and done, the crowd went worn-out and very happily into the streets.