Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Patti Smith, Castle of Udine June 28, 2005

Patti Smith’s concert started around 9:45 pm and ended around 11:15. Pretty expensive too, 38.00 Euros, for just 1.5 hours of music! Many in the crowd where 40 and 50 yr-olds. At 59 Smith packed a lot of energy and still had quite the nice voice. She played songs from albums such as “Horses” and “Gone Again” and also proceeded with some older hits such as “Because The Night” (co-written with The Boss), “People Have the Power” (written in 1988. I’m wondering if she got inspiration from Lennon’s “Power To The People” which was written about 11 years before?) and “Gloria”. At one point she sang a ballad and introduced it speaking about the war in Iraq and all the many innocent Iraqis that have so far died there. Smith also repeatedly yelled out during the concert “NO MORE WAR”! At one point, she also sat down at the edge of the stage and took off her boots and socks, not to mention spitting three times from the very same stage down below to where we were sitting (luckily, she didn’t hit any of us)!

She was backed up by four male musicians, one of them was Tom Verlaine. He and Smith go back a longgg way as in 1974 he was on Smith’s 45 record, “Hey Joe/Piss Factory”. Pretty good guitarist so it was indeed an honour to still see him on stage 31 years later. Looking at her with probably the same hairdo she’s had since moving from her native Chicago to New Jersey/New York in 1967, I couldn’t help but wonder just how many drugs she must have consumed in her life (ditto for Marianne Faithful whom I had also seen in Udine awhile ago), not to mention some of the stars she also rubbed shoulders with (Andy Warhol—she’s also a photographer and poet—Bob Dylan and Lou Reed).

And while listening to one of her “harder” songs I imagined her on stage with the following artists: the Sex Pistols and Keith Richards! What a trio that would make (all pics by M. Rimati)!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Who, Arena of Verona, June 11, 2007

Freddy (Mercury) would indeed be extremely proud of Roger Daltrey (who?). Daltrey is none other than the lead singer of one of the world’s all-time great rock bands of the 60s, 70s and also 80s: The Who. And why would Queen’s former lead singer be proud? Because Daltrey held true to Freddy’s words, “The show must go on”! In Verona’s ancient Roman Arena your concert aficionado took in probably one of the most surreal concerts of his life (certainly after the one by Sir Paul McCartney INSIDE Rome’s Coliseum!): The Who’s performance under a torrential rainfall (the first time for me). Surreal because poor Daltrey, supported by his long-time companion and formidable guitarist, Pete Townshend (the only two surviving members of that band, the other two being bass guitarist John Entwistle and that mad drummer Keith Moon), virtually had no voice left by the end of the concert.

After only five songs into the concert and after a tremendous start, the concert was suspended for one hour as we were all hit by a violent thunderstorm and with some rather menacing thunderbolts too. I was personally optimistic that the show would go on. And it did but with one hitch: Daltrey's voice, as he himself admitted it, had become "cold" because of the long pause and the humidity provoked by the downpour. His voice literally cracked on certain songs and he was seen to be extremely frustrated and even argued with Townshend as he wanted to literally throw in the towel (it looked as though he had told Pete to piss-off, or rather f.-off!). The great professionals that they are, they decided, once the roadies worked to clear the stage of all the water, to continue with the show. They started with “Can’t Explain” and continued with some of their epic songs such as “My Generation”, “The Kids Are Alright”, “Baba O’Riley”, “Magic Bus” and “Pinball Wizard”, a song made famous also by Sir Elton John. But the best was yet to come as everyone in the Arena anxiously waited for perhaps their most famous song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again", a song that was wanted by Michael Moore for his movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11" (but which was diplomatically refused by Townshend). That same song came up awhile ago when a U.S. general, referring to the disastrous war on behalf of the U.S. in Iraq, made reference to the song as a way of saying, “Well, we got fooled into believing that the war in Vietnam had been a just cause, we ain’t certainly going to get fooled AGAIN thinking that this war is just too” (his words were reported in a Time issue).

Their fantastic performance of this song at the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley shows Daltrey reaching an incredible peak with his voice towards the end of the song. I personally thought, given the tragic condition of his vocal cords, that Daltrey would miss that peak in Verona. Instead, for the immense joy of all us present, Daltrey, no doubt totally exhausted, came through! No encores, no more songs as Townshend hugged his old chum as though to say, “Well, we did it, didn’t we”? Indeed a moving moment for us all as I would say 99% of us truly appreciated Daltrey's incredible effort. And not doubt also Freddy approved from rock and roll heaven. On a final note, another treat unfolded before our eyes as on drums was none other Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr's son! This was the second time for me seeing Zak beating away on the drum skins as I had seen him a few years ago playing for Oasis in Treviso. How ironic: it was Zak that once said that he didn't think that his father was a great drummer, but instead thought that Moon was much better! And here, almost 30 years after Moon's death, Zak pounded away at those drums in an impressive manner, a manner that also Moon would have appreciated. For me another special moment: it was 30 years ago that I saw the entire Who band perform in Canada shortly before Moon would die, and 30 years ago I had been in the same Arena for another great band: Chicago! Quite the (wet) night (all pics by M. Rimati)!

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Some of the rather interesting churches in Italy and around the world.