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Saturday, July 6, 2019


(Pic by Val Bottomley)

If you’re into Latin American rhythms, this is definitely a show for you. (Review by Barry Meehan)

In my humble opinion, the 1960s was the decade that produced the best music of all time. Band members were young and incredibly creative, producing never before heard sounds and rhythms. One of those innovators was Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 with his unique South American sound. We didn’t have a clue what the words meant, but we sung along anyway.

So for those of you who were members of the sing-along brigade, here are the opening words to their biggest hit, Mas Que Nada:

Oriá raiô
Obá obá obá
Oriá raiô
Obá obá obá
Mas que nada
Sai da minha frente eu quero passar
Pois o samba está animado
O que eu quero é sambar

Recognise them? No, I didn’t think so. And to continue with the lesson, here’s a translation, without the opening lines, which are apparently untranslateable:

Get out of my way
That I wanna pass
Because samba is really exciting
And I wanna dance [samba]

And just to make the title more confusing, here’s Wikipedia’s take on it:

Brazilians use Mas que nada (or just que nada) colloquially to disagree with someone. A fitting English translation might be a sarcastic "Yeah, right!"

With many recordings, the title song is incorrectly written Mais que nada (Portuguese for "more than nothing") which would fundamentally alter its meaning. Also it should not be confused with the Spanish más que nada, which means "more than anything", or "above all", and is used in the sense of "mainly" or "principally".

And thus endeth the lesson, if you’ve read this far. And so onto the show at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre, entitled The Mais Que Nada Show Band. Members include Johnny Casquinha (lead vocals / guitar); Nicole Couto-Leite (backing vocals / piano); John Skuy (vocals / bass guitar); Johan van der Merwe (percussion); Richard Ellis (vocals / percussion); Tony Fisher (vocals / violin / mandolin) and Graham Ellis (vocals / guitar) along with newcomer Princess Dube (vocals, shakers and rhythm).

The eight musos are all accomplished performers, and obviously enjoy themselves immensely on stage, an enjoyment shared by an enthusiastic opening night audience. There are many well-known classics on offer, including a Latin-American styled My Way, Guantanamera, Smooth, Sway, Quando Quando, Volare, Bamboleio, Brazil, Amor Amor and of course, Mas Que Nada itself.

The first half mainly features vocals from band leader Johnny Casquinha, with a very good interlude from Princess Dube with Black Orpheus, a great rendition of Santana’s Smooth by John Skuy, and an outstanding standing drum solo from Richard Ellis in Gingo Loba, which brings the first half to an end.

(Richard Ellis. Pic by Val Bottomley)

The start of the second half sees the band members coming into their own, with great lead vocals from Graham Ellis in Georgie Porgie, Tony Fisher - Sway, Princess Dube – Sodade/Evora Georgia and for many of us, the highlight of the show – Richard Ellis stepping forward to sing Georgia, which is an out-and-out blues number (not sure how it fitted in to the format, but it was great!). Special mention must also be made of Nicole Couto-Leite’s one-handed piano playing in Bailinho.

After these solos, Johnny Casquinha takes over again with a succession of numbers that bring the show to its conclusion, with Mas Que Nada as the finale.

If you’re into Latin American rhythms, this is definitely a show for you.

Performances take place today (Saturday July 6 at 20h00) and tomorrow (Sunday July 7 at 14h00). The venue opens 90 minutes before show for picnic dinner.

Tickets R150 (R130 pensioners, students with a valid student card, R75 under 13s and tables of eight or more). Family Pack Pricing (R300 for two adults and two children free)

Take along food picnic baskets. Braais will be available. There is limited secure parking and booking is essential. A cash bar is available (no alcohol may be brought on to the premises). Rhumbelow Durban is situated at 42 Cunningham Road off Bartle Road in Umbilo.

Booking is through Computicket or contact Roland on 082 499 8636, email (also for group booking discounts of 20 or more) or visit - Barry Meehan