Poetry of High Level

18/07/2010 14:51

Review of José González's concert at Bažant Pohoda Festival on July 10, 2010


José González, a Swedish guitarist that performed at Bažant Pohoda Festival on Saturday, July 10, makes music that cannot be captured in words. Sometimes it flows like a stream, at another time it reminds me of bubbles blowing in the air bursting one after the other as the tones slowly fade in silence.  His performance was magical and I dare not say how many fans gathered around the stage. I was standing, mesmerized and seized in complete awe somewhere in the fifth line and never turned my head. Two spotlights were throwing light on José sitting in the middle of the stage, with smoke miraculously floating above him, and the overall atmosphere was underscored with the projection of three white trees onto the canvas behind him. Other than that, there was nothing else on this minimalistically designed stage. He didn’t get lost in a flood of noise, fortress of light of effects or a bunch of other players. His soft, peaceful voice and his enchanting play on the Spanish guitar created a special kind of aura around him and kept the audience transfixed. José delighted the audience with about twelve songs including two cover versions at the end, Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division and Teardrop by Massive Attack. The lyrical ballad Heartbeats known from a TV advert electrified the audience, and everybody swayed in its rhythm singing. A few people brought bubble blowers, which fitted the feeling of the song perfectly. 

My personal highlight of this brilliant concert was Cycling trivialities, released on the album In Our Nature. I felt a lump in my throat when José announced it. It is so epically depressing when you come to listen to the lyrics more intently.  It is about how everybody’s life is basically meaningless and becomes a mere triviality in the course of time. We are all part of a cycle, caught up in the loop of existence that has repeated itself since the beginning of time. All the attempts at figuring out what our purpose in life is become futile and we realize that everything that we have striven for in our short lives was just an illusion to our senses. We chase after trifles that only waste our time and make us forget that life might be pointed into a different direction, and be worth something more than humanity’s plight, self-interest and egocentricity that accompany our quest for fame, recognition and hunger for money. The song goes for 8 minutes, which is a long time, yet every moment of it keeps you in a state of trance. It brings up a mixture of sentiments, makes you stop and stare, dries up your throat and sends shivers down your spine.

On the whole, the concert was unconventional, stirring, and emotionally draining. José’s magical crystal-clear voice attests to the irrefutable power of sound in its purest form. Simply beautiful—beautifully simple.

Zuzana Starovecká