Live fado music in Lisbon

Frances would not let us leave Portugal without seeing a live fado music show. Fado is a well-known genre of music in Portugal, and is often characterized by a sad or mournful subject and extreme emotional evocation by the singer. It has typically been performed simply by a guitarist and a singer.

The typical picture of what a fado performance looks like, as depicted on my new shopping bag (thanks, Fran!)

We found a place with live fado music down a street in the Alfama neighborhood, behind the cathedral. It was an empty street with not much else around, but when you walked in there was this fancy cellar housing a restaurant. The traditional arched ceiling was very cool, made of some kind of stone or brick.

Inside the restaurant

I must admit, it was definitely a costly dinner between the fado show charge, a bottle of wine, appetizers and dessert. But the wine was so good! We ended up getting a bottle of vinho verde, which is a Portuguese type of wine that’s very clean, crisp and tart. My new favorite white wine.

The fado show was good, too. I wasn’t especially familiar with the genre of music, but I like it because of its melancholy tone and how it’s full of emotion. Plus, I love the simplicity and intimacy of just a singer and guitarist performing. The first singer of the night, Andre Vaz, was a really good-looking younger guy (who Frances promptly fell in love with). It sure wouldn’t be bad to have a Portuguese, fado-singing, hot boyfriend!

Next up were a couple younger female singers, but my favorite was the last woman, Maria Amanda. She was an older woman who performed with more soul and emotion, more that I imagined fado to be like. But I’d assume that kind of emotion and experience tends to come with age. Plus, she didn’t have this need to over-power the music with her voice and showed more vulnerability. Now, I just need to Google what the lyrics actually mean!

Oh, and by the way, Frances promised to write me a fado song – so get on that.


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