Walking into the concert grounds, surrounded by lush, tall trees and greenery, warm lights flickering across the lawn, the chatter of excited fans pouring into their seats, ready to soak up the lively flamenco inspired tunes of the Grammy award winning group, the Gipsy Kings, the happy energy is palpable. The weather was a balmy, cool seventy degrees, the air crisp and light with slight soft breezes that added to the delight of hearing live music. The outdoor venue serves as a double treat in experiencing self-care. Taking in the sights and sounds while enjoying nature nestled all around is a surefire way to alleviate stress while hanging out with fun friends and family. When you listen to music, research shows the brain releases dopamine, a ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter that happens when we experience pleasure. Our body’s physiological response to music is activated through our internal reward system that is associated with positive emotions. Music has been known to ‘cure what ails ya’ and the Gipsy Kings delivered at their upbeat performance in Ravinia’s packed house Friday night.
Hailing from the south of France, the two remaining original members, Nicolas Reyes on lead vocals and Tonino Baliardo on lead classical guitar, are world artists with more than 30 years of providing audiences with engaging, rhythmic cadences that fuse Spanish flamenco vibes with a gipsy spin displaying their multi-instrumental talents and guttural lead vocals. Flamenco is based on folkloric traditions in Southern Spain and usually involves singing, guitar playing, hand claps and everyone’s favorite way to a healthy heart- dancing. The crowd swayed in their seats as a precursor to all the dance moves the Gipsy King’s inspired through their dynamic music.
Playing together the band beamed contagious beats enthusiastically. Performing catchy songs such as ‘Bem bem Maria’, ‘Un amor’ and their famous‘Bamboleo’ the stage warmly invited you to get up and get lost in the whirlwind of musical talent. Reyes’ raspy voice and it’s deep bellows led the rest of the entertainers as they moved around with urgency to tell their song through movement in a hurried, eager pace. Through elegant strokes of the guitar, stories emerged and conveyed passionate emotions that surged through the lively crowd. Green, purple and orange soft hues formed dreamy lighting as the set list continued with a Spanish influenced cover of the Eagle’s song ‘Hotel California’.
The cacophony of melodic instrumentals created an electric energy as melodically hissing samba sounds reverberating throughout the theater. Fans sitting on the lawn enjoyed each other’s presence as people sprawled out to hear the plethora of soothing and vibrant instrumentals. Romantic lighting from several candlelit tabletops sewn across glowed dimly providing an ethereal ambiance. Audience members danced and felt the sultry sounds vibrating against the evening backdrop with the beating of the drums. There were percussionists who made our ears sizzle as maracas and the piano played delicately. Reward ourselves we did through the Gipsy Kings evocation of music’s healing power.
Getting called to clap, spectators willingly obliged, a rhythm materializing and pumping the crowd up with the variety of dance inducing rhythms such as ‘Djobi, Djoba’. A brilliant guitar solo had audience members up and grooving to the beat, clapping vehemently to the rhythm of the shaking maracas and banging bongos. People young and old danced the night away shaking their groove alongside the infectious energy. Delighted dances ran amuck as music permeated and soft scales rang. The highlight of the night stood out as joyous clapping, standing ovations for the encore of the seemingly somber song ‘Volare’. The song starts off slow but picks up in pace and soon members of the audience were dancing with one another, smiles covered their faces. The Gipsy Kings had everyone soaring on music high.
Photos courtesy of the Ravinia Festival
More information about Ravinia is on the Ravinia website