David Byrne on Manu Chao's Propsect Park hit last night:
The fact that the audience didn’t care that the light sweet sound of the CDs was not being reproduced on stage struck me. As performers we’re torn between the two extremes of faithfully reproducing a recording — because those specific sounds, textures and arrangements are for many part and parcel of the song itself — and doing what Manu did, using the songs as a framework and a springboard for something different, new yet comfortably familiar. Keeping it fresh but still recognizable.
Easier to do if your songs are like his — repetitive phrases over chord cycles — but maybe here I’m just being jealous. Other kinds of songs can be deconstructed and re-presented in a new light as well. One needn’t go the Dylan route of rewriting the songs every performance — changing the basic rhythms and melodies until the songs are unrecognizable is a pretty extreme way of keeping it fresh and “authentic”.
I love Manu’s Clandestino record; as a fan I can’t help wishing that the intimate light sound of that recording was something that could be experienced live, but it wouldn’t work or be appropriate in a venue this size. That delicate sound would work in a living room, a porch, a small bar or club, but the legions of fans these records attracted would never fit or be accommodated in those venues. One might say the music adapted to the audience and the venues, as it always does. in this case there was also a history and experience of less intimate shows for Manu to draw on — shows with Mano Negra, his previous band, who were also hugely popular in Europe.
Also, great photos (plus the sadly inevitable hipster douchebag taking a shit in the comments) over at Brooklyn Vegan.