Photo: Courtesy of Buika
From the moment Spanish flamenco songstress Concha Buika sauntered onto the stage at Old Town School on Saturday, audience members knew something otherwordly was about to take place. Buika's white flowing dress and glinting waterfall necklace preceded her, though the woman herself entered bashfully, overcome by the crowd's crashing wave of applause. Accompanied by her longtime pianist as well as a cajon player, Buika took her time to begin while the audience braced for her boozy sounds.
The first note was arresting. In just a few lines, Buika made very clear the power of her voice—a voice that would continue to rise throughout the intimate performance. Spectators clung captivatedly from song to song, expressing their almost religious approval at any and every opportunity. Eso es, Buika! Tú eres la reina, Buika! Indeed she is the queen, melding genres and musical locales with flamenco emotion, jazz scatting, and wild trills that ring almost South Asian.
Her roots are unmistakeable, though, as all but one song was sung in Spanish—from tongue-in-cheek rhymes in 'Ultimo Trago' to bruising love lyrics in 'La Noche Más Larga.' The woman of the hour showcased takes on classic ballads that appear on her new album La Noche Más Larga as well. Regardless of the tune, however, the raw genuineness of each stood unparalleled.
Buika's spellbinding talent was not something one could get accustomed to, and just as jolting was her own unfailing surprise at the audience's response. After each song, Concha Buika's humility prevailed as she laughed giddily at the shouts for more, scrunching her beachy brown tresses into her face as if to cower away.
An encore performance of 'Mi Niña Lola' rounded out the night, and still Buika pushed all praise towards the musicians accompanying her at each side. The pianist and drummer then linked arms with her to stand before a crowd on its feet. Buika flashed her smile again briefly before tucking her head into the pianist's arm and walking with the men off the stage.