Music September 28, 2007 By John Dickie
manu Manu Chao
Illustration By Peter Karpick

manu title Manu Chao

Over the years, there have been countless random sightings of Manu Chao around the world. Someone saw him playing football in a village in El Salvador, or riding a bike in Serbia, or buying fruit at a market in Mexico City. Many claim to have seen him strolling the streets of the Barrio Gótico in Barcelona, where he allegedly has a small apartment. It seems that Manu, one of the biggest-selling artists in the history of European music, both highly recognizable and a complete chameleon, might appear anywhere, at any time. For Manu Chao, it’s all the same. One World.
     During this last summer, there were confirmed sightings in North America, where his official schedule took him on a month-and-a-half-long tour with his band, Radio Bemba. And there he was, backstage at the Prospect Park bandshell in Brooklyn. On a balmy afternoon just hours before the evening’s show, Manu’s short, compact frame saunters casually around, barefooted, topless, in calf-length shorts and a flatcap. His arms dangled freely at his sides, moving to the rhythm of his loose body. It’s with a rascal’s glee and impatience that he begs the engineers to crank up the volume during the soundcheck. “More, more, more,” he mouths, pumping his arm, finger pointing up to the sky. Indeed, talking to him, a childlike energy comes across: a curiosity, a wonder.

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