Gig Review:
Martín Alvarado - 'Asi Es Mi Tango' with Mikko Helenius At Lauderdale Hs.,
Highgate, London N6, Thursday 21st March 2013
Martín Alvarado - 'Asi Es Mi Tango'

Lauderdale House
Highgate Hill, Highgate, London N6 5HG
Thursday, 21st March 2013, 7.30pm


Feat.

Martín Alvarado - vocals, guitar
with
Mikko Helenius - piano, bandoneón
and Special Guest
Juan María Solare - piano


Date of Review: 2013/03/22

All illustrations by and © Alban Low


 
Martín Alvarado - 'Asi Es Mi Tango' with Mikko Helenius At Lauderdale Hs.,
Highgate, London N6, Thursday 21st March 2013

It is always nothing less than an absolute delight to catch up again with Argentinean tango singer extraordinaire Martín Alvarado when London is privileged to be included in his international tours. I say privileged with considered and considerable deliberation, for we have to bear in mind that Alvarado fills concert halls with a thousand plus capacity elsewhere, like in Argentina, Finland and Russia to name some of the countries, and is constantly exposed on radio and television in these countries. Hence, given the as yet small audiences for tango music in this country, it is indeed a great privilege to see Alvarado on the British scene.

Img. of Martin Alvarado
Martín Alvarado

Thus, it was a huge delight and pleasure to be able to attend Martín Alvarado's 'Asi Es Mi Tango' with Mikko Helenius at Lauderdale House in London's Highgate on Thursday, 21st March. The weather may have been freezing and miserable outside, but indoors, things soon warmed up considerably once Alvarado graced us with his rich, passionate tenor.

Alvarado had incidentally previously received his Latin UK Award (LUKAS) for 'Concert by International Artist of the Year' for last year's performance at The Forge in Camden, at a glamorous gala at the Cafe Paris in Piccadilly on 18th March. At least some little UK recognition, even if the LUKAS awards were publicly voted for and could be voted for multiple times from anywhere. Alvarado has also been signed by World Music Network (WMN), one of the larger and most significant world music labels, and an initial re-release of Alvarado's Más Allá has been slated for this summer.

Last night's performance, appropriately enough, kicked off with a glorious rendition of the old Carlos Gardel / Alfredo Le Pera classic Volver (Return) from 1934, and among numerous other classic tangos also included the classic V. Parra 'Canción' Gracias A La Vida. The evening also included a superb new, prize-winning tango, Magia de Malvon (lyrics by Marta Pizzo).

Alvarado and Mikko Helenius had first performed this together on the Roger Williams live show 'A World of Difference' on Trent Sound radio the previous week. This was the very first occasion on which Helenius played this song on bandoneón, insisting he did not need to practice it, it was all in his head! A very brave and surprising step, testifying to Helenius' genius and great musicianship. This classically trained pianist and bandoneónista is outstanding in his own right and has been working with Alvarado on his European tours for some seven years now. Helenius, as far as I am able to establish, is incidentally also the only musician able to simultaneously play the piano left-handed and the bandoneón right-handed - an amazing feat in itself.

However, Alvarado and Helenius are not only a musical match made in heaven, but have, over the years, also developed a comic routine, based around Helenius' ability to maintain a totally stoic, dead pan facial expression. (I would never play poker with this man!) This provides some wonderful light relief from all the sad songs. (Most tangos are very sad by nature, songs of the heart and about the heart, mostly broken or breaking.)
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Right from the start of Martín Alvarado's 'Asi Es Mi Tango' with Mikko Helenius at Lauderdale House last night, it was almost impossible to maintain a dry eye, such is the emotional quality of Alvarado's voice and his singing. Even if you have never heard a tango before, Alvarado will take you with him and let you discover it for yourself. A well known national FM radio presenter present last night afterwards described Alvarado's performance rather fittingly as a 'tango epiphany,' and I imagine that is what the experience of hearing Alvarado for the first time would be like for almost anybody and everybody.

Img. of Mikko Helenius
Mikko Helenius
Img. of Juan Maria Solare
Juan María Solare

Shortly after the interval, special guest Juan María Solare, a classically trained Argentinean classical pianist, composer, conductor and lecturer in tango, based in Germany, joined Alvarado to accompany him for one song. After this, Solare graced us with one of his own outstanding compositions, Tengo un Tango, for solo piano. (His album Tango Monologues was also

reviewed recently.) This gave us an exquisite taste of another side of tango, that of tango as a classical composition, following in the footsteps of the great Ástor Piazzolla. One would hope to hear a lot more of Solare in this country, too.

Throughout the evening, Alvarado more than amply demonstrated why he is the most significant tango singer of our time, with a voice that could melt, if not snow, certainly every heart within hearing. Add to this his immense charm, charisma and stage presence that are simply irresistible.

Alvarado is the Gardel (the tango legend of the 1920s/30s) of modern times, the new 'El Mago' (magician), the new King of the Tango, taking the art form forward, to a whole new level, exploring new dimensions. (There is even a slight resemblance to Gardel, around the eyes, if you look carefully.)

Without two encores, it might not have been safe for Alvarado and Helenius to leave! An exquisite and unforgettable evening. The intimate venue may have provided a relatively small, though appreciative and enthusiastic audience, but this certainly did not detract from the complete success of Martín Alvarado's 'Asi Es Mi Tango' with Mikko Helenius at Lauderdale House last night. More, please! Much, much more, 'El Mago!'

In closing - a big thank you to Rainlore's World's Artist in Residence Alban Low for the use of his brilliant illustrations of the gig and all his hard work in preparing them. His sketching hand was flying over his pad like a demon! To find out more about Alban Low's work and to see more examples of his exquisite art and to get a catalogue of posters and prints, please visit his web site and his blogs, Art Of Jazz and Art Of Folk.


© 2013 Rainlore's World/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

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