Letters from Madrid – 1st & 2nd Flamenco Shows

Me playing between dance sets in the 1990’s

After discovering the large and vibrant music scene in Madrid, and after seeing LaBanda live at Cafe Jazz Populart, we started finding flamenco shows, and went to five flamenco shows in the first 3 months we were in Madrid. Flamenco shows usually had several different performers that included singers, guitarist, dancers and various supporting musicians playing palmas (hand clapping), cajon (a box drummed on by hand) and sometimes flute and/or strings. Sometimes a show was simply a singer and guitarist, solo guitar or a dancer or dance group with accompanying singer, guitarist/guitarists and palmeros, but shows with many artists seemed to be more common. 

The first show we saw included Potito (singer) accompanied by guitarist Tomatito in the first part of the show and then Jose Fernandez (dancer) and his company the second part of the show. The second show was El Lebrijano (singer) accompanied by guitarist Enrique de Melchor with supporting palmeros.


18 April 1996

The first flamenco concert we saw featured Potito with Tomatito on guitar the first half and Jose Fernandez and company the second half. It was a good performance, but different from the shows we’ve seen at home. This was Potito’s debut performance promoting his new album. He sang and Tomatito accompanied. On some of the songs there was a second guitar, bass, cajon and palmero. Jose Fernandez is a dancer, and he was the only dancer. He had two guitarists, two singers, two palmeros, a cajon player and a cellist to support him. The theater is under the plaza at Colon circle, just down the street from where we live. The volume was not high and the sound was good.

The second show we went to featured El Lebrijano and Enrique de Melchor. El Lebrijano is an excellent singer, one of the best we have heard. Enrique is a fine guitarist. El Lebrijano’s voice is strong, his expression, delivery and sincerity are honest, and animated. He sings right to the audience and relates his stories through song with gestures and facial expressions that convey the convictions of his heart, soul and words. Enrique de Melchor is a flashier player than Tomatito, but was still very restrained as compared to many I have heard at home. His quick busts of speed, his clear tone, and clean changes assure the listener he is a fine guitarist, but again, he never does anything to upscale the singer. He is attentive, supportive, and does what is required to accompany and enhance the singer’s tonality. There were three palmeros that assisted at times and towards the end, one palmero, who was the same person with Potito, and I was thinking maybe he is a house palmero, got up and danced during a bularias, mocking the style of women dancers. He was very good actually, with strong, fancy displantes, hip movement, and great facial expression and greetos. On another bularias, El Lebrijano did his share of dancing while, the house palmero sang. The audience brought the group back 3 times for encores. This was good cause for them to call one of the other, younger, palmeros to dance. His dance was short and simple but fun, he is not a ham like the house palmero and the singer. The house palmero danced some more and then he and El Lebrijano danced together a little bit and danced off the stage together to end what was a very good show.

Next the third flamenco show…

Tomatito & Potito | Caminillo Viejo (tangos) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34yscu_bAsQ

El Lebrijano & Enrique de Melchor – Seguiriyas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr3gmRppEsc