REVIEW: Goran Bregovic Wedding and Funeral Band
Goran Bregovic and his Wedding and Funeral Band began his Sydney concert with the 5 brass players of his nine-piece band entering from the stalls of the concert hall. They engaged in call and response cries across the audience till they all came together as they made their way to the stage. This introduced the powerful and distinctive colours of this Balkan brass powerhouse – a highlight for this listener throughout the concert.
Once the band were all on stage the repertoire included songs from Bregovic’s recent album Three Letters From Sarajevo, and other tunes from his vast repertoire. Before long he had audience members dancing in the aisles with infectious Balkan-gypsy grooves, tangos, and passionate singing from all the singers, including vocalist/ percussionist Muharem Redzepi.
Bregovic has made several trips to Australia over the years with 19 and 37 piece bands and this nine-piece band increasingly made use of bass and drum tracks to provide the bottom end, turning the distinctive flavours into something more generic. While this probably helped the festive, party atmosphere, for this listener it introduced a sense of predictability and actually obscured the nuances of the great musicians who were more than capable of grooving without the track. My favourite moments were the pieces without track where the drama and full rich tones of the ensemble were heard to best effect, especially in the several encores, which were very powerful and affecting.
But what would I know? By the end of this two-hour concert most of the audience were on their feet dancing and the infectious and irrepressible Bregovic had transformed the concert hall into a raging Balkan-Gypsy Festival.
The Goran Bregovic Wedding and Funeral Band played at the Sydney Opera House on May 13.