On their latest Nonesuch disc “Roots,” the Gipsy Kings shed their commercial instincts and dance rhythms to explore the beauty and grace of traditional, flamenco-based gypsy guitar music. It is a sumptuous album, the finest of their 21-year recording career. Before two packed houses at the Greek, they let their “Roots” show, but only a little — they’re far more content to be a party band.
Established through the catchy, hip-shaking hits “Baila Me,” “Djobi, Djoba,” “Bamboleo” and their rhythmic brethren, the Gipsy Kings have long teetered a line between the commercial and the antique. (Is there another band led by seven acoustic guitarists, most of whom sing lead?)
On “Roots,” the France-based group pays homage to their earliest days with new compositions performed without synthesizers or a trap drum; in concert, an egregiously over-amplified drum kit and synthesized keyboard accompaniment kept the Kings at arm’s length from the organically generated mood of the album.
As the show, about two hours of music spread over 2½ hours, wound down, synth and drums played dominant roles, transporting the Kings from informal Euro stages to the dance floor of a Caribbean cruise ship. For more than 30 minutes, the Kings played the nostalgia game and had the audience up and dancing, as if their fate has been sealed as an oldies act.
The band performs July 26 at Radio City Music Hall.