Friday, 12 April 2013
All good things happen twice. I have no idea if this is true, of course, but it's a way of weaving into the conversation that this is the second time I see Manu Chao perform live. The first time was his free concert in the Domain at the opening night of the Sydney Festival 2012. Tonight he is visiting the more intimate venue of the Enmore Theatre.
It's been an eventful day leading up to the concert. In the morning I had an interview for a job I really wanted and had veered all day between thinking I did ok and there was no chance in hell they would ever employ someone like me (spoiler alert: I got the job in the end!). So this evening finds me tingeling with exitement and eager to release some pent-up tension. And have I come to the right place!
Manu Chao is still the small, bouncing bundle of energy he was a year ago. He has the rather disconcerting habit of pretending his guitar is a machine gun, miming to shoot at the ceiling or pointing it at the audience, but other than that he is just pretty much jumping up and down throughout the whole concert, playing with pure, unabashed bliss that is inspiring and infectious in its joy.
Manu Chao performes with three band members, but at times it gets pretty crowded on stage: After a couple of songs he is joined by political activists he had previously invited who are protesting against coal seam gas mining. It slows down the momentum the concert had built up so nicely, but it's still admirable to give this group a platform to express their views. As we are in Newtown, they are of course preaching to the proverbial choir, earning cheers and loud applause. Clearly there are no mining magnates or conservative politicians hidden in the audience...
Towards the end of the concert there is another interruption on stage that is far more entertaining: A very agitated bloke breaks through security and dances wildly on stage. Then he takes off all of his clothes, continues dancing and proceeds to hug Manu Chao. The singer, who is clearly having a great time watching this spectacle, signals the stern security people that everything is under control. He hugs the naked guy back and smacks two kisses on both his cheeks.
Manu Chao, who was born in Paris to Spanish parents and has travelled the world with his music, clearly hasn't lost either his Punk roots or his political conscience. And apart from all that there is the simple pleasure of witnessing this force of nature on stage. Twice.