Record Review - Manu Chao: Baionarena

Radio Bemba/Because Music/Nacional Records

Filmed in a packed bullring in the southern French city of Bayonne, deep in Basque country near the Spanish border, this live double-album and DVD captures the essence of the former Mano Negra frontman's colorful career as an artist. Born in Paris to Spanish parents, he has emerged as a modern-day populist troubadour, channeling Bob Marley through a punk aesthetic. The editing of the video is fast-paced, which does justice to the band's energy as it rips through 38 tracks that span Chao's earlier work, as well as some of the tracks that briefly made him a pop darling in the 2000s. Singing in a combination of French, Galician Spanish, English and Arabic, the music is polyrhythmic, loosely jumping from punk guitar riffs to reggae riddims, with a horn section as the backdrop. 5 out of 5 stars.