It was an extremely hot evening in Chicago with the kind of thick humidity that sticks to your skin and permeates your whole being. Normally, it’s the sort of weather that is downright oppressive, but on this particular night, it provided the perfect backdrop for a performance by Brazilian born Seu Jorge.
The evening began with the band laying down the opening rhythm to “Errare Humanum Est”, the opening track from the recently released and self titled, Seu Jorge and Almaz. Seu Jorge then stepped up to the mic and began to add his heavily weathered vocals to the track. Jorge, appearing somewhat incognito behind a hat and sunglasses, seemed somewhat subdued at first, but warmed up with each song.
The better part of the hour and thirty minute set was dedicated to material from the latest record, which also happens to be largely made up of cover songs. Of course, in the hands of the Seu Jorge and Almaz, even the most recognizable cover song often takes on a new identity. Songs like the sultry “Tempo de Amor” and the dreamy “Everybody Loves the Sunshine”, whose languorous vocal delivery sounded like someone lazily basking in the sun at that very instant, were standouts early on. But it was the version of Kraftwerk’s “The Model” that truly showcased the excellent pairing of Seu Jorge and Almaz. With a loose, slippery guitar line trailing Jorge’s deep, thick vocals, ever so slightly, the track is brought from the deep recesses of a basement in Berlin and dragged into the sun to air out, all while staying within the confines of the original’s structure.
Seu Jorge largely addressed the audience in his native Portuguese, but at one point he declared in English, “This one is for the Americans,” before playing “Ziggy Stardust”, which was undoubtedly a nod to the success here of his soundtrack score to The Life Aquatic. It was followed by a downtempo version of Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You”, which did not work as well as some of the other cover selections. The evening truly peaked towards the end of the night when Jorge appeared on stage with a guitar for the first time. Backed only by some subtle percussion, he performed the popular “Tive Razao” from 2005’s Cru, which had the crowd dancing all the way to the back of the room.