Fado singer Ana Moura stopped at New York City’s Symphony Space this past Friday to promote her new album, Para Além da Saudade (World Village). Following a brief instrumental prelude by her backing group, Jose Elmiro Nunes (guitar), Angelo Freire (Portuguese guitar) and Filipe Larsen (bass), Moura began her set with “Guitarra,” a heartfelt tune from her début CD whose lyrics speak of how the guitar translates the sadness and despair that comes when a love affair is over. She greeted the audience in Portuguese and English, taking a moment to explain what fado is all about, then continued her performance with “Primeira Vez” (“The First Time”), an erotic tune describing the passion of lovers on a beach under the stars.
Moura followed “Primeira Vez” with “Sou Do Fado, Sou Fadista” (“I Belong to Fado, I am a Fadista), the lead single from her first CD, Guarda-Me A Vida Na Mão. She sang with great emotion, relating her affair with fado and how it slowly crept into her heart, making her one of its interpreters.
One of the concert's highlights came when New York saxophonist Tim Ries joined Moura onstage for “Velho Anjo.” A touching ballad he co-wrote with guitarist Jorge Fernando, Reis added a heartfelt, Michael Brecker-inspired solo to the melody. Another great moment came when Moura performed “Até ao Fim do Fim” (Until The End of Times), a song in which two lovers realize there is no love between them any more, as a duet with guitarist Freire.
Moura briefly explained that in her native Lisbon, fado is played in small venues with no amplification, which deeply contrasts with the setting for this performance. She demonstrated the difference by dropping her microphone to sing “Lucinha do Carmo,” a traditional tune often played throughout Lisbon.
Ries, who helmed the Rolling Stones Project, a tribute to the band that includes artists John Scofield, Charlie Watts, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, and Luciana Souza, returned to the stage for the encore, a slow rendition of “No Expectations.” The song, sung both in English and Portuguese, seemed a welcome change to Moura. She was happy to break from the fado mode for a bit, revisiting her roots as a pop singer, and sounded very comfortable belting out the English lyrics, while Ries inserted some improvised jazzy solos. The performance closed with “A Casa de Mariquinha” (“Mariquinha's House”), a traditional fado piece that ended the night with a round of thunderous applause.