‘I don’t know a whole lot of about music, but I know what I like.’ And there is much to like about the Bossa Nova, Brazil’s popular genre, with its soft tones and slowed-down samba sounds.
“Bossa Nova Sunset Club” represents a smooth blend of concert and history lesson, with vocalist, percussionist and part-time narrator Anje West, sharing the story as much of the sounds of the musical genre. And she should know; along with real-life partner Kym Ambrose, she makes up Brisbane band The View From Madeleine’s Couch (joined on this occasion by Andrew Shaw on double bass).
But this is a love story with the music more than anything else and the duo’s love and passion for the melody is clear. And from the opening ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ its poetry is clear to audiences too, despite any initially perceived Portuguese language barriers. To complement the familiar musical material of this sort, songs are seamlessly entwined with original works that are just a memorable in their celebration of optimism and reflection about the everyday beauty of nature and love.
West is genuine, even emotional at times in her approach, which only adds to the show’s appeal. And the inclusion of projected images of Rio in the 1960s, classic Bossa Nova album covers and candid shots of the great composers and artists of the time, adds much to the experience, despite its encouragement of distracting chatter from oblivious audience members. Indeed, the anecdotes of the duo’s trips to Brazil to study the music at the heart of their inspiration are not only of interest, but serve as evidence of music’s ability to change lives.
As a musical style, Bossa Nova is both beautiful and timeless, and the intimate journey that is “Bossa Nova Sunset Club” shows audiences why. It is what sunsets should sound like, with smooth sounds to sooth the soul. Indeed, the show is a sensational celebration thanks also to the inviting, social atmosphere created by its hosts from Australian Modern Design, who are opening up their home not just for the production itself, but to share pre-show drinks and a post-show party of sorts, showing a generosity of spirit and shared arts experience that is exactly what the Anywhere Theatre Festival is all about.
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the opening night performance on May 15.
You can purchase your tickets to “Bossa Nova Sunset Club” here.