Peret (La Linea) – Barbican, 2009 (Live Review)

Abraham the Gypsy had two sons, to Flamenco he said, ‘guard the purity of your sound, it will see you through some bad shit’ and to his other son Rumba Catalana he said ‘mix it up, add a little from here, leave a bit of your sound over there, let’s see how it works out.’ His descendant Peret is the undisputed king of the Rumba shakedown.

Peret in person is disarmingly charming, a self-confessed grumbly granddad figure with an anarchist streak a mile long. Prouder to be lumped in with the prostitutes selling whatever they have than with the money men selling you a tenner for £11 and still managing to mess up that business model.
Peret came back onto the global radar at just the right time, we the world, had collectively got over ‘Bamboleo’ and were intrigued by bands such as Ojos de Brujo citing Catalan Rumba as a defining core sound.
An album featuring David Byrne wasn’t going to do any harm either.
Tonight’s concert had plenty of clapping hands and frantically strummed guitars as you’d expect of this flamenco cousin but elements of old time son from cuba, a splash of charango and a few more spices besides. And Peret still has the voice, neither classically beautiful nor artistically agile but remarkably strong and supple, which if you have a good tune and an up-for-it audience, is all you really need.
Despite what the programme said, it was not however his UK debut, that would have been back in 1974 in Brighton when he represented Spain in the Eurovision song contest but the judges preferred Abba’s ‘Waterloo’. It was an honour to have him in London. Don’t leave it so long next time.

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