Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra made the impossible: two years after their first appearance in the U.S., and in New York’s Lincoln Center (Avery Fisher Hall), they came back only to New York.
This time not for one, but for two concerts, July 8 and 9. The concerts are well documented by this author (more than 600 pictures, some of them here, a story in Bulgarian here)
It is very unlikely that another band can come within two years time to the Lincoln Center, as I heard in the hallways. But Goran did it, which makes him quite unique – at least to the New York Standards. Well, one can judge about it from this New York Post article.
Avery Fisher Hall was prepared this time – the staff knew who is coming, and that it will be crazy. The orchestra was coming from… the back of the hall. Bokan Stankovic came first, then Dalibor Lukic. Aleksandar Rajkovic, Milos Mihajlovic and Dejan Manigodic followed, and while the auidence was trying to stand and look backwards, Alen Adamovic and Stojan Dimov took the stage. And they started with 24 songs, and then another five followed, but only after a standing ovation and thousands of feet kicking the floor of the hall. Both nights, and I wonder if the Lincoln Center has ever seen this.
The difference between the two nights – on July 9 the dancing started only way into the concert – may be around the 6-7 song, while on July 8 people were dancing between the aisles on “Gas, Gas”.
There were other differences, too, but the most important part is:
This music is unique, and it is arranged in a perfect way. Needless to say, the music will be nothing, without the voices of Ludmila and Daniela Radkovi, the two Bulgarian singers, who are with Goran Bregovic since around 1995, when he did the music for the acclaimed Underground movie.
Imagine the following: everyone is dancing in the hall, when suddenly Goran is asking the people to sit down for a song, with lead vocals by Alen, Ausenzia.
But then, some more songs with dancing, until the moment came for Aven Ivenda (from Tales and Songs from Weddings and Funerals). Ludmila Radkova started singing, and suddenly there was no one in the hall, but she. Daniela was sitting on the chair behind her, and there was some clarinet by Stojan, and accordion by Alen. And sound silence from the audience. I could see the tears in the eyes of the people around me, and further behind (I was at the second row).
She finished the song, and the audience burst into applause, long, and loud, with people screaming “bravo”, “oshte” (more).
After that it was easy, and the next two songs, in which the people were quiet, Ederlezi (from the Time of the Gypsies) and In the Death Car (from Arizona Dream) came naturally towards the end of the concert. The latter one was coming with a funny break by Goran, who doesn’t like when people clap their hands during that very song. He was singing, and explained first that this song is performed originally by Iggy Pop, and then at some point he forgot the lyrics, and had to go back to the beginning of the strophe. Now, just think about it: if this was an opera, the singer would have been humiliated, and probably the audience would be throwing eggs at him. Instead, Goran’s glitch was faced with applause. Now, whether this was a real glitch, or well prepared trick to make the public closer, that we wouldn’t know. In any case, it was successful.
Each of the performers in the orchestra has his own greatness and uniqueness.
Bokan Stankovic (picture), who is with Goran since the early time of his career, is a great trumpet player. He plays the music as he hears it, and his improvisations are precise, full with life. I’ve seen him also using ocarina, and pipe, but this time there was no pipe.
Dalibor Lukic (picture) is relatively new to the orchestra, but the sound of his trumpet comes very naturally into the main stream, and has a specific voice, which is easy to recognize.
Stojan Dimov (picture), the Macedonian saxophone performer, shows great talent, and performs precisely as Goran wants it.
Aleksandar Rajkovic (picture) is a young first trombone, who produces sound that can break anyone’s heart. He’s always serious during the concerts, and shows that he takes this work with great responsibility.
Milos Mihajlovic (picture, second trombone) is bringing the music to its natural origins with his wonderful performance.
The sound would not be the same without the powerful voice of the tube, performed by Dejan Manigodic (picture), also with Goran since the early times.
And this music comes behind the voices. There could hardly be a soul which will not shiver when Daniela and Ludmila start to sing. Or, to say it differently, if somebody’s not touched by their divine voices, then this person has no reason to listen to any music. Their performance is not only professional, but they are also artistic, and bring exactly the part of the music, which makes it superb. Remove one of their voices, and the perfect structure will never be the same. Change one note, and the rhythm will be lost.
Unlike the musicians, who can improvise, and that is part of the game, the phenomenal Bulgarian singers are only following what’s written by Goran. And in his desire to make things even better, he is using every bit of their voices – be that to prolong the lead vocal of Alen, or to have them fly on their own.
Because, indeed, that is what happens when Radkovi sing: the listener flies. Audience either stays in complete silence, not understanding how on Earth is it possible for some women, to have such a fantastic voice, and such presence; or burst into applause and screams.
The lead male vocal is of Alen Adamovic (picture), the young 21-year old singer and musician. His performance is also within the usual for the Orchestra perfection. He puts a lot of efforts, and a lot of soul into his singing, which is combined with performance on the drums. I don’t know how he manages to do both things at the same time (may be because I wouldn’t be able to do even one of them), but he even plays the accordion without even thinking about it. He’s artistic, and he definitely is well liked by the audience.
Above all is the mastership of Goran, who has suffered a major injury less than a month ago, and the concerts in New York were the first since his spine operation. He looked thinner, and may be a one degree more tired, but that did not stop him from performing at his usual [best]. His guidance of the Orchestra makes this music possible. He is working on a new album, to be released in October 2008, called “Alkohol”, and as he jokes, consisting of two parts, Rakia, and Champagne. Some of the songs in this album have been performed in the last year, starting from the Gucha festival in 2007, and now in New York. Some of them are cover versions of his Bijelo Dugme songs, for example “Ruzica”, “Napile se ulice”.
It seems Goran likes New York, and New York likes him, too. Next year we’ll find out what are the feelings of the rest of the USA, as he will be performing in Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA; Austin (TX), and other cities. I will keep you informed about the exact dates and places where you can get tickets, or get together before and after the concerts.
For the Bulgarian fans of Radkovi sisters from other cities – please, contact me, so that we can organize more welcoming ceremonies for these wonderful performer, who are also so natural and humble, as some of my countrymen, who met with them late after the first concert, can confirm.
For everyone – follow my blog to find out when Alkohol will come on the shelves, and in the meantime, get the other CDs and DVDs, and search Youtube for more of Goran’s performance.
Alen Ademovic (vocals, drums, accordion)
Bokan Stankovic (first trumpet, ocarina)
Dalibor Lukic (second trumpet)
Stojan Dimov (sax, clarinet)
Aleksandar Rajkovic (first trombone, glockenspiel)
Milos Mihajlovic (second trombone)
Dejan Manigodic (tuba)
Slave Celevski (picture)