Ed Motta – Live @ Union Chapel


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

On Monday 7th April 2014, Ed Motta, one of Brazil’s most treasured and gifted sons, brought his unique South American vocal and musical flavours to the grandiose setting of The Union Chapel, London. And indeed, with ninety percent of the audience being of Brazilian or South American heritage, Mr Motta no doubt felt as if he was walking on stage in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro. Taking his seat at his piano and with a welcoming whooping still ringing in his ears, Ed addressed the crowd, paying homage to his exquisite surroundings:

“Oh! What a wonderful place; Jesus Christ! It’s so good to be back in London after such a short period of time. I was here in September, November, September – no October! (Crowd laugh) It’s really nice to be here to play in this place; I’ve never played in a church. I’m kind of nervous because it’s so intense – let’s pray!” (Crowd laugh again)

“Tonight’s gig is all about my new album which is called A.O.R. This is a seventies terminology for Adult Oriented Rock; but It’s not rock and it’s not that adult at all. But let’s go for it!” And with that Ed Motta and his band launched into their opening number, “Playthings of Luv” which set the tone beautifully for the rest the rest of the evening.


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

Next up this simple and approachable guy introduced a song appropriately titled “Simple Guy.” Rising from his chair so he could expand his lungs fully Ed proceeded to show why he’s loved and revered globally by so many, as his powerful, yet warm falsetto vocals floated soothingly over his audience. As an added postscript to the song, Mr Motta couldn’t resist highlighting the acoustic virtues of the Union Chapel by giving an impromptu a cappella version of “Maria” to the delight of the crowd.


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

In keeping with the track listing of his AOR album, the third track of the evening was “Lost In The Night,” where Ed took the opportunity to introduce his highly proficient and honed band members. “1978” was preceded by our protagonist telling of his first cinematic experience, Star Wars. Again we were treated to his masterly vocal dexterity as he imitated the light-sabres to a tee!


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

After jokingly self-deprecating himself with regards to his size and his challenge with chairs the world over, Ed counted the band in on the super funky and instantly infectious groove of, “Smile” the audience were quick to clap along in time with the beat freely to show their appreciation.

As the tune played on, keyboard player Matti Klein was given his time in the spotlight and didn’t disappoint offering up a superlative and energetic solo, with his bandleader looking on. Mr Motta then upped the musical ante with the sixth track of the evening, “Dondi” also lifted from the stupendous AOR album. Again Ed relayed why this song was so personal to him because of the talented guitarist David T. Walker who guests on the track on his new album. “This track has a super special guest on the album, who is David T Walker. I’ve loved David T Walker since I was born, I’ve heard him play on so many songs; he has such a unique style.”


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

As the band got into their stride, the drum (Miguel Cassals) and the bass (Johannes Huefken) could be heard in full effect and the foot tapping became involuntary. Midway through the tune Ed instigated rhythmic handclapping as his fellow Brazilian, legendary guitar player, songwriter and arranger Paulo Alves fired off a stirring solo. The audience lapped it up. Ed edified him accordingly at the end of the tune, “Not only is he a genius guitar player, he is a genius composer too.”

Sticking with the AOR set, “Farmer’s Wife” was preceded by Ed Motta’s now customary preamble,” This song is inspired by TV series…This song is dedicated to Tom Selleck actually; the very tight jeans, those Hawaiian shirts and also to wear moccasins without socks.” The band was then invited to play the intro music from Magnum PI, led by bass player Johannnes Huefken. “Also, there was the cheap version of Magnum PI, but with a less interesting script, “Knight Rider.” Once again Mr Huefken obliged with some familiar deep baselines.


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

The next song “Um Dom Pra Salvador” segued smoothly into “Suxo” where Ed Motta’s vocal pyrotechnics were showcased to maximum effect. He was left alone on stage to give a thirteen minute vocal master class like no other, which included some extremely left-field scatting, an impersonation of Prince and an impromptu a cappella version of Cheryl Lynn’s disco classic “Got To Be Real” to the crowds overt delight – An absolutely spellbinding exhibition of vocal control.


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

Ed Motta then summoned to the stage Incognito’s leading man and premier UK Jazz Funk guitarist, “I’d like to invite a friend of mine to be on stage, but I don’t know if he is here, brother Bluey is he here? As Jean Paul “Bluey” Manuick bounded from the back of the Chapel onto the stage, Ed continued, “Jean Paul “Bluey” Manuick, give him a round of applause y’all!” Bluey seamlessly replaced Paulo Alves on guitar and before long the band had launched into a pulsating rendition of “Drive Me Crazy.” Special guest Bluey was given free rein to lay down funky riff after funky riff to his heart’s content, and he didn’t disappoint.

The two immensely lovable and highly talented musicians embraced before Bluey departed the stage, whilst acknowledging the plaudits of the appreciative punters. With the set fast drawing to a close, the Ed Motta BAND transitioned straight into “Colombina”, a song which makes every fibrous tissue in your body tingle with happiness and good feeling. The interactive sing-a-long made it all the more special. Then after four minutes and thirty seconds the band got it’s groove on, especially Johannes Huefkhan , who laid down a monstrously nasty baseline for the next three or four minutes thereafter.


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

As the tune built to its crescendo Mr Motta even found time to pay homage to Lonnie Liston-Smith with a mini chorus of “Expansions” to round out the tune. The band all stood and in return received their own standing ovation which went on for full minute and a half. Not one member of this Brazilian groove collective left the stage. Ed Motta went on to humorously explain that by the time he walked offstage and came back, he would be out of breath.


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

So it was that they rolled straight into the encore, and what a deeply immersive encore it was. A sublime, mellow and introspective ballad entitled “Living Inside Myseif.” Ed’s emotive vocals and dextrous keyboard playing held his audience captive as they hung onto every word of this sumptuous ballad. With the band still playing Ed Motta rose from his stool, took a few steps to the left and acknowledged his people before walking off, stage-right, for the first and the last time. Ed Motta UK Vibe salutes you; come back again soon.

Michael J Edwards


Michael “The Dood” Edwards and Ed Motta post Union Chapel gig

Essential Band Line-up:
Ed Motta – Band Leader, Keys and Vocals
Paulo Alves – Guitar
Miguel Cassals – Drums
Johannes Huefken – Bass
Matti Klein – Piano

Essential Albums:
Dwitza (Universal) 2002
Piquenique (Trama) 2002
Poptical (Trama) 2003
Aystelum (Trama) 2005
Ao Vivo (live) (Trama) 2006
Chapter 9 (Trama) 2008
AOR (Dwitza) 2013

Essential Spaces:

Ed Motta gives vocal props to UK Vibe:


Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde