A scaled-sown version of Gipsy Kings headlined two shows at City Winery NYC, a smaller venue than the group normally headlines. Five guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer was diminutive, considering the ensemble usually plays with as many as 11 musicians. Even the set was abbreviated, with the 7:00 p.m. show ending a few minutes after 8:00 p.m.
Gipsy Kings, born in southern France from two related clans: the Reyes and Baliardo families, took traditional Spanish guitar and rumba flamenco music into the realm of pop and world music in 1978. Although personnel has changed over the decades, the current billing of “Gipsy Kings featuring Nicolas Reyes” spotlighted both the brand’s long-standing gypsy-styled music and the vocals of founding member and principal composer, arranger, and producer, Reyes.
Gipsy Kings offered a lively performance from the moment the musicians took their positions. Driven by the percussion of the drums and the strumming of guitar strings, the songs were showcases for speedy guitar picking and Reyes’ rough and smokey vocals. In short time, the jovial spirit was celebratory, rousing numerous audience members to spin napkins above their heads and dance by their tables.
Perhaps because a later show was scheduled, the early show seemed to end abruptly only an hour after it began. Waiters suddenly scurried to give patrons their bill. Other waiters were still bringing dinners to customers at their tables. The band returned for an encore. The night was still young, but the encore was brief. Wouldn’t the band have played longer if they had headlined the Beacon Theatre?