Last night’s Nu Deco Ensemble show at the North Beach Bandshell was history set in stone. Everyone in attendance had the treat of not only enjoying one of their most powerful performances to date, but also a once-in-a-lifetime moment of catharsis. It all started while waiting in line to get in. Yes, you read that right, there was a line pouring out of the historical amphitheater and around the corner. At a classical music concert.
Immediately you knew this was something the city was yearning for. The place was crowded with anticipation as the ensemble took the stage, ready to make their mark. With no introduction, they dove into a booming first number, and grabbed whatever attention was left to be caught. Then came a groovy rendition of Nicholas Omiccioli’s “Fuse,” which sounded as if Frank Zappa had tried his hand at the Mission Impossible theme song.
Nu Deco then moved onto the second part of the first half with an homage to local music. They invited Aaron Lebos Reality onto the stage and amplified his track “Flux Capacitor” for a jazzy and tight number that sent some serious head bobs through the crowd. Electric Kif then followed with a slow and slinky track aptly named “Heist.” It moved along funkily eventually exploding into a beautiful crescendo. There was so much support in the air, it somehow felt like a high school reunion with happy faces all around. Even the crowd was sprinkled with some of Miami’s most well-known artists and musical faces, all proud for their peers.
What we love most about Nu Deco Ensemble is their ability to relate. To the masters, to the local musicians, and to an audience just learning about the classical world. They do this most efficiently through their explorations of popular artists. They brought out some of their most beloved suites of Radiohead‘s “Weird Fishes,” Kraftwerk, and Daft Punk. Being a witness to someone experiencing the unexpected is an added treat at a Nu Deco concert. And that was just the first half.
Then came the moment we’d all been waiting for. The Latin GRAMMY-nominated Cuban songstress, Danay Suarez took the stage and the night shifted into an entirely different dimension. Not only did her words preach of truth and positivity, but her presence on that stage proved that powerful vocals can make anyone stop mid-sentence and listen. She brought us to church with every song and moved confidently as if the 20+ piece Ensemble backing her was as comfortable as a trio in her hometown.
She played tracks from her critically-acclaimed Palabras Manuales which led to her bringing out some very special guests. Now, Nu Deco Ensemble has proven that any genre can work in the arena of classical music. But hip hop? Even the most faithful found it hard to believe. But then El B took the stage and brought out the 808 we all never knew we needed. It was incredible to see him turn everyone in attendance into a born-again fan of hip hop. A fraction of us could understand his quick-fire flow, but that didn’t matter. Everyone was equally spellbound.
Danay then invited the night’s guest of honor, Stephen Marley to the stage for their song “Integridad” and none of us would ever be the same. Less of a surprise was that Marley sounded just like his famous father than that he could sing just as gorgeously in Spanish. With the roots of a movement manifesting themselves on stage, Marley joined Nu Deco Ensemble as he sang “Redemption Song” and “Could You Be Loved,” bringing tears to our eyes. The spirit of a king was near. By the end of their set, the entire crowd was dancing in joy for having not missed such a special moment for our city.
As Stephen left, Danay resurfaced for the last two numbers of the night. Her navigation of lyrics and phrasing is honestly a treat of a dance to watch. She closed the night with power and poise and everything Miami’s 21st-Century orchestra stands for. Classical music transformed in this way is meant to be on a stage this welcoming.
If you weren’t there to partake in the emotional feast that was last night’s performance, be sure not to miss the next one on February 15th. Nu Deco Ensemble will tackle Stevie Wonder, George Gershwin, and will welcome GRAMMY-winning wunderkind Jacob Collier to the stage for a special collaboration. Don’t miss it!