"Jorge himself seemed elated with the response - more befitting of a stadium than the concert hall, as the crowd screamed and stamped their feet - ripping off his shirt and dancing with his crew to 'Let's Dance'."
The iconic red beanies from Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou were scattered everywhere throughout the crowd, donned by fans and staff alike. The event was preluded by an introduction from a member of the Brazilian crew; the night was to be a performance by two artists, "one here in the flesh, one here in spirit". Seu Jorge took to the stage alone, dressed in his own red beanie and matching blue top and bottom - completing the uniform his character Pele wore aboard the Belafonte in the film.
Kicking off with Ziggy Stardust, Jorge made his way through Bowie's best work, each song familiar yet rendered strangely alien in translation. Jorge sounded amazing, his covers noble evolutions of the originals with their own kind of humble genius. His chilled-out Changes felt like it belonged on a sunny beach somewhere, his bossa nova Rebel Rebel was a complete transformation. Listening to him live you could understand why Bowie was quoted as saying, "Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese I would never have heard this new level of beauty."
As a personality, Jorge was humble, charming and funny, filling the time between the songs with anecdotes from his time making ...Life Aquatic... (in much better English than he seems willing to give himself credit for). Interestingly, he recounted that until he was approached by Anderson he didn't really know Bowie's music (apart from Let's Dance and Young Americans); "Black guys who grew up in the favelas in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil don't know rock'n'roll".
The main set climaxed with a transcendent cover of Space Odyssey and a beautiful rendition of Life On Mars? that the artist dedicated to his late father who passed in the same week as Bowie. He left the stage to a scattered standing ovation that eventually took over the whole audience after he returned to deliver a powerful encore. Jorge himself seemed elated with the response - more befitting of a stadium than the concert hall, as the crowd screamed and stamped their feet - ripping off his shirt and dancing with his crew to Let's Dance. Just as he was about to exit, Jorge quite spontaneously seemed to change his mind and picked up the guitar again for one last song.
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It's clear that the process of making The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, and through it discovering Bowie, was a formative part of Jorge's life and there's something earnest about the tribute as a result; it's never overly sentimental and Jorge doesn't keen or gush, instead letting the music speak for Bowie's legacy and the shared impact it had for us in the audience. It was a beautiful night of excellent music.