Seu Jorge at Vicar Street, Dublin, on May 24th 2017
An evening of David Bowie in the key of The Life Aquatic was in store at Vicar Street when Brazilian actor and composer Seu Jorge stopped off for a date on his tribute tour in Dublin.
The Brazilian actor was immersed into the world of David Bowie when he was cast in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic starring Bill Murray.
On this tour dedicated to Bowie and Jorge’s father who died of cancer, Jorge reprises the role of Pelé dos Santos in the madcap adventure, complete with sky-blue tracksuit and red bobbly hat costume from the movie.
The stage is suitably attired with props befitting scenes from the movie with sailing ropes, crates, lanterns and a ship’s wheel placed upon the stage.
Jorge performs solo and acoustic, lovingly reproducing the David Bowie songs he arranged and translated for the soundtrack, beginning with Ziggy Stardust.
Delivering a set of David Bowie’s finest songs in Portuguese to an Irish crowd could easily go awry as the inner urge to sing along to these much loved songs is tempered by the linguistic constraints upon the audience, except for the large number of South American and Portuguese people in the crowd that is, who embraced the opportunity to sing along in their native tongue.
Thankfully, Jorge’s onstage patter was delivered in English and with much wit. He regaled the attentive audience with tales of how he came to be cast in The Life Aquatic and how he suddenly went from knowing two David Bowie songs to studying his back catalogue to create breezy samba and Bossa Nova arrangements with little if any preparation. It was a process which often included frantic comedic moments; Jorge arrived on set with three completed Bowie songs to his name only to be asked to perform one he’d never even heard before and was given the morning to reinvent Rebel Rebel.
He tells us how he struggled initially because he’s Brazilian and Brazilians don’t listen to that “rock shit”, but the song Changes changed all that for him, giving him a foothold and opening up the project for him.
Jorge’s interpretations more than do justice to the source material, his crispy bass-baritone vocal adding an extra dimension to proceedings on songs such as Rock N Roll Suicide. Jorge informs us he was drunk when he arranged it, noting how “beautiful” and “hard” the song is.
Jorge didn’t play it safe and simply stick to the hits though, Quicksand (‘Hunky Dory’) and When I live My Dream from Bowie’s 1967 debut album both receive fine re-imaginings. The often overlooked Ziggy-era track Lady Stardust is dedicated to Cate Blanchett, who delivered her scenes in The Life Aquatic whilst four months pregnant, much to Jorge’s amazement.
In an unusual move, the encore saw two songs – Rebel Rebel and Oh You Pretty Things – get a second outing with scenes from the movie projected on a hastily uncovered screen. And whilst both were performed with the same gusto and their original performance it did detract somewhat from what had been a fine performance.
Having said that, we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending an evening in the key of David Bowie with Seu Jorge, but hopefully if he does return he’ll add a few more songs to his repertoire in the meantime.