Caetano Veloso and David Byrne ‘Live at Carnegie Hall’ (Nonesuch) 4/5

Originally a spring concert from 2004 that was broadcast on National Public Radio, the American equivalent of the BBC, this live recording is a welcome collaboration between two veteran musicians who constantly keep their music fresh by entering into new musical dialogues. Here the concert is divided up roughly into three parts, the first two with the two musicians performing alone and the final section with joint vocals in English and Portugese. Caetano Veloso takes care of the first part of the performance and this is predominantly from his classic mid-late 1970s repertoire with a few classics before and after thrown in for good measure. Old chestnuts such as ‘Sampa’, ‘Terra’ and ‘O Leåzinho’ still sound as fresh as the first time they were aired while ‘Coraçåo vagabundo’ is quite simply one of Veloso’s most delightful and sensitive compositions of all. David Byrne performing acoustic is, perhaps, the welcome surprise here and classic Talking Heads material suc has ‘Road to nowhere’ is viewed in a new light when devoid of any instrumentation other than Byrne’s own guitar. In a recent interview David Byrne was quoted as being somewhat nervous at the prospect of sharing the stage with Brazilian giant Caetano Veloso, but, judging by the resulting music contained herein, he need not have been so anxious for this is very much a meeting of equals and kindred spirits. The two singers are on top form on a gorgeous rendition of ‘Um canto de Afoxé para o Bloco do Ilé’ which is sheer delight with Byrne very competently singing the original lyrics in Portugese. Veloso returns the compliment with aplomb on ‘(Nothing but) flowers’, where both singers enter into a humorous update on the lyrics in English and Caetano in particular delivers his trademark idiosyncractic vocals that are received with rapturous applause from an audience that is lapping the momentous event up for all it’s worth. The only downside of this recording is that thus far there has been no follow up studio album. David Byrne may have felt that he was going a little outside his own comfort zone, but his empathy for Brazilian music is all too apparent and a joint project would surely yield some precious offerings from two of the most open-minded musical minds on the planet.

Tim Stenhouse