In recent years, Celtic Connections has featured many distinguished exponents of world music. The 2016 festival maintains that noble tradition. Both Flavia Coelho (from Brazil) and her support act, Cheikh Lô (from Senegal) have featured on the main stage at recent WOMAD Festivals (Coelho in 2013 and Lô in 2015). In truth, if ever there was a concert which was the equivalent of a double A-side single, this is certainly a candidate.
Coelho makes her initial entrance in a relatively understated manner, guesting on the third song of Lô’s set, where they trade vocals back and forth on Degg Gui.
When she returns to the stage for her own set, Coelho makes a much more dramatic entrance. She is bathed in a spotlight with a couple of split-beam rotating lights behind her. The opening song Amar e Amar is from Coelho’s latest album, Mundo Meu, which is swiftly followed by the title track from her debut album Bossa Muffin.
Some performers, while gifted technically, can be relatively restrained while on stage. Coelho is always animated, truly performing, rather than just singing her songs. As she does so, she radiates the joy she obviously feels in playing to an audience, which is utterly infectious.
Around the midpoint of her set, she trades places with her drummer and acquits herself in this new role very creditably, while his resonant voice echoes around the hall.
On Por Cima, Coelho gives the audience a dance class as she sings, with much (as Francie and Josie might have put it) “gyration of the torso”, ending with a high kick.
All too soon, the final number Sunshine arrives. Energy levels remain high. As is her due, Coelho returns to stage for a well-deserved encore, or two, to be precise. Vazio is a fun song about a lady who is (it seems) overly fond of a mild libation, which is followed by Periferia.
As she exits the stage, Coelho promises to return very soon. Hopefully, this offer is legally binding? As a famous (fictional) Glaswegian might say, “Haste ye back, Flavia Doll!”