Seu Jorge Leads an Exploration of David Bowie at Civic Theatre

09:32 December 08, 2016
By: Finn Turnbull

Born Jorge Mario da Silva in a town near Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Seu Jorge has made a name for himself since the late 90’s as a multi-talented individual. He is known in Brazil as a revivalist of pop samba music, but he is also an established actor. He gained more recognition after starring in the two films City of God (2002) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), for which he also wrote and recorded music. Throughout Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic film, Seu Jorge’s character, Pele dos Santos, famously played Portuguese, acoustic covers of David Bowie classics, which were later recorded for a very successful companion album. David Bowie himself is quoted for saying this about the album, “...had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese, I never would have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with.” In the wake of Bowie’s death this year, Seu Jorge has decided to tour in the form of a tribute to the late legend. Jorge is on the road playing his entire cover album, The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions.

The Civic was stuffed to the rafters with fans of Bowie and Jorge. Many fans even dressed themselves with red beanie caps, the signature apparel of Team Zissou members. Jorge also dawned his character’s outfit from Life Aquatic, and surrounded himself onstage with nautical items such as a boat steering wheel and fish nets.

The show was wonderfully intimate. Jorge played by himself with no opener. The light design was subtle, but brilliant, and the decoration gave the feel of Jorge playing casually on a pier or wharf. While dressed in the trademark red beanie, blue Team Zissou jumpsuit, and with classical acoustic guitar in hand, he played through his Bowie covers and accompanied each with stories about how and when he wrote them. For example, he was influenced by the actress Kate Blanchett while working with her on the set of Life Aquatic. He was impressed by her strength, as she was 5 months pregnant during the shoot, and this led him to write the “Lady Stardust” cover. Comically enough, he wrote the “Rebel Rebel” cover in less than 15 minutes on the set of Wes Anderson’s film after finding out at the last second he was about to record it.

It was a joy to watch him play his tributes to Bowie while taking time between songs to sip from his mug and chat with the crowd. He performed each tune with passion and precision, going through the entire list of covers from the Life Aquatic album. After the final song, “Quicksand,” he left the stage, only to be demanded back by the audience. For his encore, he played “Rebel Rebel” and “Oh! You Pretty Things” each for a second time before closing the night with his version of “Queen Bitch,” which was his final song during the credits of the Life Aquatic movie. During the encore, a large screen appeared from behind a curtain and projected clips from the film mixed with images of Bowie. At the end, he stood up and thanked the crowd, taking a bow with his stage hands, as Bowie’s original “Queen Bitch” blared. It could be influence from the film, but something about that song feels so right and gives such a satisfying feeling of upbeat closure. It is a shame that we lost him during what seems like a time when we need him most, but Bowie would have undoubtedly appreciated the sentiment of Seu Jorge’s grateful, affectionate sendoff. “The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.” - David Bowie

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