MUSIC | Gipsy Kings shake it at the State Theatre

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The Gipsy Kings, legends of flamenco-laced pop, played to a full house at the State Theatre during a rescheduled (due to a blizzard, of course) show on May 24. With no opening act, the band entered first as a quartet with a samba-infused introduction before bringing the entire crew out. It was a rhythmic wonder of guitar, voice, and percussion. Their music seems familiar but assaults your senses and screams dance! sing! enjoy this!

Minneapolis is the tenth city of the month on this leg of the Gipsy Kings’ world tour originating in Budapest. For about a year, they’re performing at sites as diverse as Bratislava, Slovakia, and New Jersey. To date, they have a total of 18 albums released, two of which are greatest hits collections. The last album is Pasajero, released in 2006. A whole new generation, however, now know the band from Toy Story 3, in which Buzz Lightyear sings, in Spanish via the Gipsy Kings, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” The last time I saw this band live was at First Avenue in the late ’80s. Sure, I’m dating myself, but I don’t mind. I’m thinking that if this band can still play “like that” I can still party “like that”! And there was at least a three-song chance to party at the end of the concert.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the State is a hard venue to dance in. You want to move, but if you leave your appointed 11″ of seating, you’re sure to be bugging someone if they’re not in the same groove. The band members had some peculiar habits during this show. Canut Reyes was often raising his arms encouraging the audience to clap. Not a big deal, but we were clapping…so not sure if they were hearing what we were hearing. Two of his solos were directed to the audience which was sweet (and appreciated by quite a few gals in front rows).

The sound seemed to irritate the band on occasion. There were a few frowns and thumbs-down by the band members. And the flow seemed a bit off with a super-short first set, followed by a second set with very long solos. They definitely kept entertaining us all, but it wasn’t seamless.

It’d help if you had a little rhythm when you heard this band. You’ll want to shake it, they’ll ask you to shake it, and you’ll need to shake it and clap to it at the same time. That takes a little coordination, but is a whole lotta fun. The Gipsy Kings’ cultural roots are in Spain, but their musical roots are in Spain, France, Andalucia, and Catalonia. So although I’m of German descent and don’t know a “kinder” from a “garten,” these guys do their heritage proud with interpretations of flamenco, rumba, and salsa.

The current tour group features Andre Reyes, Nicolas Reyes, Canut Reyes, Tonino Baliardo, and Paco Baliardo from the original Gipsy Kings’ Baliardo and Reyes families. Señor Pacheco was on congo drums, and “The Professor,” Bernard Paganotti, did his scene- and sound-stealing bass playing. Songs from throughout the band’s career were included in the concert. A few highlights included “Rumba Tec,” “La Negra,” “Avanssa” (a.k.a. “A Tiki Tiki”), “A Tu Vera,” “Estranos,” “Samba Samba,” and, of course, “Volare” and “Bamboleo.”

Gipsy King followers have been raving about this tour as it’s been a long time coming, and it truly does reach almost all corners of the earth. The band as lovely to listen to as ever, perhaps a bit more calm, but with the same passion and character that makes them the Kings.

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