Os Mutantes at The Brudenell

On Tuesday evening I headed to the Brudenell Social Club to catch legendary Tropicália inspired psychedelic rock band Os Mutantes from Brazil, as part of their long-awaited UK tour.

Owing to there being two other concerts taking place in the other rooms of the venue, the humble games room of the Brudenell was transformed to create an up-close and intimate setting for the night’s proceedings. Before the band made their way onto the stage, the room was already packed out.

Os Mutantes. Photographs by Jazz Jennings.

With no support bands in tow, Os Mutantes were able to indulge the crowd with an epic 90-minute career-spanning set with a newly rejuvenated line-up. As they took to the stage, the anticipation and excitement from the audience was clear, allowing the band’s adventurous musical hybridity to be delivered with great connection and honesty.

Despite the unfortunate onset of bronchitis inflicting founding member, vocalist and guitarist Sergio Dias, he commendably exclaimed “I’ve been sick before; let’s have some fun, Leeds!”

Having always been at the cutting edge of musical experimentation and progression since their beginnings way back in the 60’s, it is no surprise to see that the highly renowned group still exert something extremely special through both their songs and personalities, with a seasoned professionalism that has duly carried them through the decades.

Opening up with ‘Technicolor’, the band showcased the immense vocal talents of members Esmeria Bulgari and Carly Bryant, with beautiful vocal harmonies soaring over layers of rich percussion, constructing the archetypically groovy Os Mutantes sound.

Continuing with ‘Time and Space’, the audience began dancing with a rising energy, with the band visibly moved by the support. Sergio is a first-class frontman and guitar virtuoso, offering conversation ranging from personal anecdotes to Leeds trivia to the fans who he clearly has a huge fondness for. Live music is particularly special for this reason, allowing the creators to engage with the fans in an organic way, and the brief moments of interaction give an intriguing insight into a unique musician who is admired globally.

Other highlights were ‘Top Top’, ‘Bat Macumba’ and ‘Balada du Louco’, a hugely diverse set of songs that shows the multi-instrumental talents of the entire band, with keyboardist Henrique Peters shining through with uplifting melodies and a powerful vocal delivery. The band continues to exude a wonderful harmony on stage and it is great to hear several people around me singing along in the band’s mother tongue of Portuguese.

The set culminated in a flawless rendition of ‘Panis et Circensus’ from their 1968 debut. Absolutely everything is going on in this song, perfectly illustrating the wacky, colourful and distinct sound of a band that is like no other – still holding its own to this day, almost 50 years later.

Os Mutantes. Photographs by Jazz Jennings

At this point, some serious credit has to be given to Sergio for ploughing through the set with such liveliness despite, at times, the illness getting the better of him. A true artist with an honourable approach to an undoubtedly frustrating obstacle.

Shortly after, the band left the stage to thunderous applause, marking the end of an unforgettable night. Hopefully, they’ll return to the UK as soon as possible!

Gary writes for Leeds Living on contemporary music, being an avid goer of gigs and a supporter of local talent.

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