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Goran Bregovic and his Weddings and Funerals Orchestra

Teatro Circo Price, Madrid
16th March 2009

A wonderful evening of inspirational sounds from myriad influences and an undulating audience infected by rhythm and fun.

The orchestra fluctuates in size according to the concert, reaching a maximum of 40. In Madrid there were about 20 on stage: 2 Bulgarian female singers, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, a sax, 4 string performers (violins and cellos) and 7 members of the Belgrade Orthodox choir. Not to mention Goran Bregovic singing and on the electric guitar, and the additional singer (and drummer) Alen Ademović.

The upbeat songs, which are reminiscent of the Emir Kusturica & the No Smoking Orchestra, get the audience going, but Kusturica's musical compositions are the real highlight. He has an amazing control of crescendo and creates a mesmerising atmosphere (no wonder he has had so much success as a film score composer). The musical influences are culturally and temporally diverse; drinking from Slavic and Romani traditional music, sometimes sounding like the ululating chants of Arabic music, and peppered with electric guitar (Bregovic's own family embodies the culturally diverse nature of former Yugoslavia; his mother Serbian, his father Croatian and his wife muslim). Bregovic's course, almost punk, vocals contrasts perfectly with Alen Ademović's beautiful lyrical voice.

The evening was full of vibrating fun, and it was fantastic to watch the diverse crowd (at least a third was made up of various Eastern European nationalities) getting drawn into the music. That said, I would have been equally happy to listen to a concert full of Bregovic's strange and mesmerising compositions in which he plays with the different potentials of the human voice and omitting the easier bouncy tunes (which Kusturica's band does with even more bounce).

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