El Cigala y Tomatito en El Escorial

On May 29th I caught the cercania (train) to beautiful, scenic San Lorenzo de el Escorial to hear the much anticipated, eagerly awaited concert collaboration between Grammy award winners Diego “el Cigala” and guitarist Tomatito.  The auditorium was completely sold out.  I somehow managed to score a ticket and it was 9th row center—great!

A remarkable concert it was in many respects.  I made careful note of the pieces presented and their sequence and I’d like to lay that out here:

1.  TARANTAS began with a long, jazzy falseta that really set the tone for what was to follow.  Cigala hacked, coughed and sneezed his way through the “temple” but, once his distinctive, unusual vocal stylings kicked in, the atmosphere became pure honey.

2.  SOLEA’ was straightforward, purely and beautifully executed.  It was highly reminiscent of the live recordings Camaron did with Tomatito in the late 80s—in the very best way.

3.  SEVILLANAS—an odd choice.  Unusual letras and not entirely satisfying.

4.  ALEGRIAS brought in 5 (yes, 5!) palmeros and really created some aire.  COOL!

5.  Cigala left the stage and Tomatito, joined by 2 percussionists, super- kicked-ass on a dynamic RUMBA that got huge applause.  Tomate then left the stage, Cigala returned:

6.  MARTINETE was sung very very well.  The 2 percussionists entered in the middle, then Joselito Romero (now goes by Maya, I guess) danced powerfully and with emotion.

7.  Tomatito rejoined the crew and they did a SON from Lagrimas Negras along with an excellent (Cuban, I think) standup bassist.  Nice.

8.  El Dia Que Me Quieras, a Gardel tango, was done more like a Bolero but…it was nothing short of heart-stoppingly lovely.

9.  Another SON, this one in 6/8 time, good not great.  Tomatito does not have the feel for this music that his nephew,  Niño Josele has, who usually accompanies Cigala.

10. Tomatito goes completely berserk por BULERIAS, with 5 palmeros, a three-person chorus and the 2 percussionists.  Out of this world, extremely powerful, and got everyone off big-time.

11. Cigala sang VIDALITA, ending in VERDIALES, not even trying to match the effect of the preceeding number.  Smart choice and effective.

12. A great JALEO with everyone on stage and full-out.

13. Strong TANGOS ending in BULERIAS that featured numerous Cigala letras, great coros and a BIG ending.  Deafening applause.

14. Encore of just Cigala and Tomatito doing 3 letras of FANDANGOS.  Moving.

This was the 4th time I’ve heard Diego “el Cigala” and the 3rd time I’ve heard Tomatito.  The quality of this production—the sound, the lights, the pacing—was absolutely first-rate.  The quality of the artists is top-tier, contemporary flamenco at its best.  A treat.