Thursday, June 28, 2012

An enchanting concert by Chris Cornell , Udine June 25, 2012

Seattle’s Chris Cornell, the 47 year-old founding member and front man of the grunge group Soundgarden, enchanted some 2,000 fans in Udine’s splendid little castle during the city’s “Udine&Jazz” event with a 90 minute acoustic performance. 

Few artists who play there DON’T comment on the castle’s wonderful and warm setting.  And Cornell, who also played with the group Audioslave, was no exception to the rule.   Alone and surrounded by six guitars on stage Cornell, famous also for one of James Bond’s best theme songs, “You Know My Name” (from the “Casino Royale” 007 movie starring Daniel Craig as a terrific Bond), soothed fans with his wonderful voice during a cool summer evening with a lengthy repertoire taken from his “Songbook Tour”.  “Black Hole Sun” from his Soundgarden days was everyone’s favorite as was a wonderful cover version of Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You”. 

The American singer ended his performance with two songs from the Fab Four, “A Day In The Life” and John’s famous ballad, “Imagine”.  Oddly enough, “You Know My Name” was missing from his show, a song which no doubt helped Cornell’s global popularity even further (other groups/artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Madonna, Carly Simon, A-Ha and Garbage have also recorded memorable Bond theme songs). 

The only sad note of the entertaining evening was that in the wee hours of the morning Cornell was rushed to Udine’s local hospital as he suddenly fell ill.  His upcoming Turin show has been momentarily suspended until further notice.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bruce Springsteen, Trieste June 11th, 2012

Grandiose, sublime, incredible, exceptional, extraordinary, unbelievable,  TOTALLY reliable, fun, great, magnificent, moving, adorable, amazing, unbeatable and still (highly) energetic at a whopping 63 yrs of age (and still a hunk too!).  

Forgive me if I’ve missed some but these are just a few of the adjectives to describe Springsteen’s truly AMAZING concert in Trieste on June 11th and in front of 30,000+ adoring fans.  

You could say that I’ve seen a few great drummers in my life, such as Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Cozy Powell, Carl Palmer, Charlie Watts, Steve Copeland (with AND without The Police), Neil Peart, Lars Ulrich and Phil Rudd, but few drummers out there have I seen who are SO focused and are so intensely involved with the main singer as Bruce’s Max Weinberg!  Max spent more than three hours attentively following his every move on stage.   Yet another man who is TOTALLY devoted to his work and his love of rock’n’roll!

The event actually began two days before with the arrival in Trieste of Bob and Cindy Santelli.  Bob’s the executive director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and also hails from NJ, like The Boss himself.  He’s also the musical director over at the White House and has been the curator over at the “Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame” in Cleveland.  The man is also an amazing walking encyclopedia of music.  It was truly a real, real pleasure to have spent some time with him (I had convinced him back in December, 2011 to come over to Italy to present his book, “Greetings From E Street.  The Story of Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band”.  The man’s seen then all, including Bob Marley and Led Zep’s famous reunion at London’s O2 Arena some years ago)!

Trieste’s concert took place in the city’s nice soccer stadium that is named after their most famous soccer coach, Nereo Rocco, a homegrown boy too.  The venue is great because it doesn’t have a bloody track around it like Udine and Rome’s stadia.  

Bruce was joined on stage by an amazing line-up of 17 musicians, and not only his historic E Street Band (sans though Clemons and Federici).  A treat as Clarence’s nephew was on sax and did a mighty fine job of his uncle’s former great work on that same instrument.  Both Little Steven and Nils Lofgren, who did a hell of an amazing guitar solo while doing a pirouette, were also there by Bruce’s side.  Ditto for  “Professor” Roy Bittan and Garry Tallent, including members from this Pete Seeger Session band (saw that great concert near Udine in 2006).  Amazing as always to see Bruce “flirt” with the fans, grabbing them, pulling them up on the small stage and letting them touch practically every part of his body too!  Just his ever-present warm smile was enough to sell a few thousand tickets too (you can see that he draws IMMENSE pleasure and also energy when he sees that his fans are having the SAME amount of fun that HE’S having on stage!).

Of the 30 songs he played Bruce hit us all with his first hit, We Take Care Of Our Own, from his latest “Wrecking Ball” LP.  That followed with hits such as Death To My Town, My City Of Ruins, Born To Run and Born In The USA, Johnny 99 (you could see the effects of Elvis on Bruce in this song!), Working On The Highway, Thunder Road, Hungry Heart and one that he rarely does and was written together with Patti Smith (her version is perhaps the most famous one?), Because The Night!  We were all rather worried that we'd be hit by a massive rainstorm but evidently Bruce brought us a LOT of good luck as he sang one of his nicest songs, Waitin' On A Sunny Day (in fact, not a single cloud that night to be seen in the sky over the stadium.  Thanks Bruce)!  And not missing in his amazing repertoire were also Darkness, The River and last but never least everyone’s all-time favorite, Dancing In The Dark!

My fifth time seeing Bruce live: 1984 in Toronto during his extraordinary “Born In The USA” tour, 2003 in Florence (3½ hours worth of concert and 3 encores!), 2006 near Udine and in 2009 in Udine with Big Clarence on sax, the very last time that I’d see him live.  And the fifth time in Trieste?  Supreme and great as always.   

Bruce is like Tina Turner of days of old and also the Stones (only Jagger can beat Bruce on stage in terms of energy): you pay BIG money to see these fine artists but you walk away TOTALLY satisfied as a customer.  

And without a doubt Bruce is still THE best that America has to give the world!

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