Talking Hands


Guitars and voice, and the sounds of the keyboards, and the counterbass, and those extraordinary lyrics, and all that saudade I always felt about Portugal, my ancestors, my history, and even this feeling we sometimes keep inside about people and places we have never met, all these things have always been the reason that has made Madredeus so meaningful to me. And then, suddenly, I was there, sat on a comfortable seat in the best theater in town to meet them, for the first time. It was not a private meeting -- and I must confess that, although I had even sent some roses to Madredeus that afternoon, with a letter in which I tried too describe all that their music represents to me, I got really afraid of visiting the backstage after the show and talk to them, of even ask them an autograph... --, in fact we were about 1,5 thousand lucking people who were able to buy one of the tickets to that single show, which got sold out in the very first ours of sale... But somehow I felt that all of us had the same expectations about that first time with the Portuguese group, although all our ideas about Madredeus were about to change forever after that show.
I have met Madredeus music in 1993, when visiting Portugal, by the hands of a couple of marvelous friends from Beja, a gracious city in Baixo Alentejo region, and since then songs like O Pomar das Laranjeiras or Amanhã gained a quite special meaning in my life. Many people there at the theater have never seen them before, just like me. Some of them probably had some Madredeus&146;albums, many of them were recomended to go there by friends or some exciting articles about the group, published in local newspapers, full of good references to Madredeus&146; works, and probably some Wim Wenders&146; fans were there to watch, in a live performance, that group that eclipsed Lisbon Story weaknesses with that unique music. But, in a certain way, we were all freshmen there. That was our debut. We didn&146;t even know how to behave in a concert like that. Could we clap hands, or sing along? Could we dance or ask for extra songs? Could we openly declare our love to them, shouting their names, during the show? No answers. Only that expectation pervating the air, making us completely silent. Madredeus is, in fact, something hard to describe for us, Brazilians, which popular music is always full of rythm and percussion, and who had never felt too close to Portuguese music before Madredeus came to our land. The most significant similarity between Madredeus&146; music and the so-called MPB (Música Popular Brasileira or Brazilian Pop Music) is the poetry of the lyrics, but even this issue was never signed to Brazilian public before Madredeus arrived here, for the first time, in 1991.
Suddenly, the lights went off, and soft notes from a guitar were listened. It was Pedro playing! And then, José&146;s guitar and Fernando&146;s counterbass joined the melody, right before Carlos&146; keyboards begin to play magnificently... Red lights finally showed us Teresa, and she marvelously started to whisper, promising us, by the lyrics of a song, that, “no matter what happens, she would be there with us” (Haja o que houver / eu estou aqui)... I saw nothing more up to the next song. Tears made me completely blind in that very moment. That voice, that music, sounded like a blessing. It was just as if all my emotional life, all those moments that Madredeus&146; songs would come back to my mind at once. I kept on crying for a couple of minutes, just remembering people, places, things I left in a hidden place, somewhere in the past... Then I was once more awaken by Teresa&146;s voice sadly singing Adeus -- e nem voltei.
Watching Madredeus on stage was like a trip to my inner feelings. Each song had a particular history to me, but their way to perform -- a mixture of respect for the public, humbleness, exquisite technique and love for the music -- gave me new reasons to admirre them. All their gestures and behavior seem to be also a particular concert, a class of how to deal with human weakness...somehow, that music, those lyrics, taught me how to deal with this so hard challenge called life. All on that concert was an invitation to pure contemplation, in fact.
I got particularly enchanted by the way Teresa sings with her hands. Somehow, her strength is also in each finger, each movement of her little hands, each image she draws in the air while sweet words were said for her voice. Sometimes, her hands moved as if they were offering us that peace everyone feels in Madredeus&146; music; sometimes, her hands caress us tenderly in the deepest part of our hearts. Her hands, they were never rude, never too fast, never offensive or hard. Like two little birds, they were there just to fly over that wave of tranquility they were giving us, through their music, in that rainy night.
Teresa&146;s hands are still here, inside me, somehow, in a special place where still live Elis Regina&146;s laughs, Marisa Monte&146;s songs, Mário Quintana&146;s poems, Marcel Proust&146;s long paragraphs, Chopin&146;s music or the sweet --although sometimes sad -- smile of my grandfather... Sometimes, when I get too sad to fight against my own weakness, I feell those hands showing me the way to face life. As a Brazilian poet once said, poetry doesn&146;t belong to the poet who writes it, once it is published; it really belongs to the reader, who will understand it and use it according to the own reader&146;s world, not the poet&146;s. I surely know that the way people understands Madredeus&146;music maybe is quite different from mine, and even from what Pedro and Teresa and all them feel about the music they do. But this is the way their songs help me to live in a better way. This is the meaning of life, after all.
That concert was considered the best one in my city, in that year (1999). It was the first time Madredeus visited us. For me, it was the best meeting with myself I had for years and years and years...

Robertson Frizero Barros

(after a Madredeus concert in Teatro do SESI, Porto Alegre, Brazil, in September 13th 1999 - this concert was specially booked for the opening ceremony of 6º PORTO ALEGRE EM CENA, a quite famous annual international theater festival)


Madredeus - O Porto

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