fri 22/11/2019

Flavia Coelho, Rich Mix | reviews, news & interviews

Flavia Coelho, Rich Mix

Flavia Coelho, Rich Mix

Brazil's latest big-haired export knocks it out of the park live

Flavia Coelho: Brazilian Tina Turner

Flavia Coelho once told me her parents in the favelas of Rio put an aluminium bucket over her head as the only way to calm her down. It was also a useful echo chamber to practise her singing. Her parents were hairdressers for drag queens. She still comes over an overactive child on stage and is one of the most dynamic live acts you are likely to see: she’s like a Duracell bunny on stage. She performed as part of a trio with a keyboardist and drummer, playing low slung guitar and bashing drums sporadically during her set, but the lean line-up seemed expandable – give her the cash and she would be comfortable with percussionists, backing singers, brass section and the kitchen sink. 

Although born in Rio, she was brought up in Sao Luis, in the north of Brazil, which is that country’s centre of reggae music and it’s reggae and ragga which form the spine of her show. It’s more Ritalin-fuelled than Jamaican downbeat with scatter-gun rap and a dash of rock,  bossa, and electro-pop.

Expect to see her rousing delirious crowds at festivals this summer

Coelho has the iconography – a cartoon of her is on the back wall, with a splash of paint representing her big hair. As a performer she reminded me of Madonna’s drive and energy and the sassiness of Tina Turner. Live she has more satisfying coherence than her slightly scatter-gun approach in her new album Mundo Meo, released this week.The album does have some gorgeous tunes on it, though, like the single “Por Cima” about a woman who ”sacrifices all for her man”. That relatively easy-going number, which went down a storm at Rich Mix suggests that if she does slow down a fraction she could access a deeper emotional connection with her audience, but you can’t fault her work ethic. She may be worldly (with a background like hers who wouldn’t be?) but is not even slightly world-weary.

Now based in Paris, Coelho is being picked up for numerous collaborations – Jools Holland watchers will have seen her guesting on TV with the Senegalese singer Cheikh Lo recently. If anything the Rich Mix hall seemed too small for her outsized persona and it’s no surprise European festivals have been snapping her up as a sure-fire crowd pleaser. If the record business was still not in a funk, she would be a sizeable star, and she may still be – for now, expect to see her rousing delirious crowds at festivals this summer.

Overleaf: watch the video for "Por Cima" by Flavia Coehlo



If anything the Rich Mix hall seemed too small for her outsized persona and it’s no surprise European festivals have been snapping her up as a sure fire crowd pleaser


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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