Friday, April 24, 2009

Nek, Teatro Giovanni da Udine 21/04/2009

Nek, aka Filippo Neviani, is a spunky Italian 37 year-old Italian singer who personally reminds me a lot of Sting. In fact, his first-ever album was actually in honour of the Police`s “Reggae And Rock”.

Not a quite sold-out show but nevertheless an entertaining one which lasted nearly 2 hours. Nek took Italy by storm 12 years ago at the Sanremo song festival with “Laura Non C`e`”, which he also played in Udine as an encore. That sort of brought down the theatre and, admittedly, is one of my favourite songs (even though I don`t really know many of his other songs!).

Many of the fans included young women as Nek is still a sort of “hunk” for many of his adoring female fans (see pics). He was basically promoting his latest album, “Un`altra direzione” and was backed up by five fine musicians. This was one of the few concerts were his personal entourage was rather picky with the few photographers that were on hand. In my particular case, one asked me which pics I had taken (for some odd reason, we weren`t allowed to take pictures of the first two songs, just the third, fourth and fifth). Nek came out playing guitar for the first two songs behind a large, black transparent cloth. It was quite comical as the first five pictures in my digital camera also contained pics of my 88 year-old dad (all pics by M. Rimati)!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PFM, Pordenone 19/04/2009

Anyone remember that great program called “The Midnight Special”? I think it used to come on ABC on Saturday nights at midnight. I used to watch regularly because some of the acts were simply terrific, such as Deep Purple (with Ritchie Blackmore, the “author” of the world’s most famous guitar-rock riff, “Smoke On The Water”!) and also AC/DC!

Well, indeed a coincidence as some 35 years ago they actually had on the program Italy’s PFM (aka Premiata Forneria Marconi), a progressive rock band that was basically THE only Italian rock band which was known back then outside of Italy’s borders (the band also had success in Great Britain and Japan). PFM, a band “related” to the sounds of both Genesis and King Crimson, was also the only band out of the several Italian progressive groups of the 1970s which was known at an international level (they played as back-up to some mighty fine groups out there, such as Yes, Procol Harum and Deep Purple, all groups by the way that I’ve also seen in the past). In 1972, with their album “Storia di un Minuto”, it was the very first time that the mini-moog keyboard player was ever used on an Italian album. PFM also played together for 4 months with Peter Frampton.

The coincidence is that some 35 years later, here I was at Pordenone’s sports forum along with some 3,000 fans, catching three of the original members of PFM during a two-and-a-half hour show: drummer and vocalist Franz Di Cioccio and guitarists Franco Mussida and Patrick Djivas (who had replaced Giorgio Piazza as bass guitarist in 1973). The first part of the show consisted of songs of the late, great Fabrizio De Andre’. The latter part of the show instead consisted of PFM’s own songs (the name of the band comes from Forneria Marconi. The band then added the word “Premiata”). Di Cioccio alternated between singing and drumming (and not a bad one at that too!). A good show for a band that 35 years ago managed to also impress the Americans (all pics by M. Rimati)!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nightwish, Pordenone 31/03/2009

So you could say that I’ve seen an interesting and even odd act here or there in 182 concerts and thirty-three years of taking in shows, but Nightwish was a sort of an oddball-like concert: it felt as though I were at a Take That/Spice Girls performance, but in symphonic-power-metal-gothic form, all bunched up into one! Even the crowd was strange. There were people of all ages, but mostly teeny-boppers who were at the pre-Iron Maiden/Metallica/Motorhead stage (I’ve seen the last two groups by the way, the last one being THE loudest band so far in my entire life!). That’s the feeling I had taking in this group from Finland.

The other thing that grabbed my attention was that the poor security guys working right under the stage. All of them were wearing earplugs (admittedly, the sound level was supportable, but NOT if you also had to take in three bands BEFORE Nightwish)! The band itself was formed back in 1996 with the original singer, Tarja Turumen. She was replaced in 2007 by Annette Olzon who played at the Pordenone gig and who’s been part of the latest album, “Dark Passion Play”, a blonde singer worthy of a Playboy edition. Prior to their performance the band was backed up by three bands: Indica, Pain (an appropriate name for their style of heavy metal music!) and Volbeat which performed a heavy rock version of an old Johnny Cash tune.

In 2004 Nightwish`s album “Once” sold a whopping 1 million copies. That same year saw their U.S. hit single which also found its way into three U.S. movie soundtracks. On the one hand, Nightwish’s bass guitarist, Marco Heitala, looked like a musical version of a Viking ready to set sail for foreign lands while on the other hand, lead singer Olzon was decked out in a gold mini-dress and looked ready to hop around the stage as though she were at a beauty pageant. A spunky kid I must say (just look at the pics to get a confirmation of that!). Metal experts say that with the exit of Tarja from the band the group’s lost fans here and there. From looking around at the arena I’d say there were about 1,500 people and from talking to their German record producer who was on hand taking pictures with a very, very old Canon AE-1 camera, I had the feeling that this band was created in a recording studio solely for the purpose of being commercialised as a symphonic-power-metal-gothic group, nothing more, nothing less (all pics by M. Rimati).

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