Monday, December 7, 2015

John Mayall in Rome, February 26th, 2014

John Mayall, the lion of the blues, keeps rocking away in Rome.

In Rome for his “80th Anniversary Tour”, the great British bluesman John Mayall shows no sign of slowing down.

The historic “father of the British Blues”, 80 year-old John Mayall, performed to a sold-out crowd in Rome.   Mayall needs no introduction to his stellar career that began way back in 1956 when he formed the group “Powerhouse Four”.   

Unquestionably, his most famous band has been the “Bluesbreakers”, his very own “University of the Blues, which he founded in London in 1963 after a brief spell with the “Blues Syndicate”.   Mayall’s new band eventually went on to record some 45 albums.

Some of the fine musicians that rubbed shoulders in the early years with Mayall were Jack Bruce (of “Cream” fame), Mick Fleetwood, Duster Bennett, John McVie, Aysnley Dunbar and Peter Green.

But perhaps the two most famous musicians that had the honor of playing with Mayall were Eric Clapton and a young Mick Taylor (Taylor was 16 when he showed up at a “Bluesbreakers’s show.  A guitar on stage was without its owner that night.  It belonged to Clapton.  Young Taylor asked John if he could play.  Mayall said ok, perhaps somewhat skeptical though of the very young guitarist, who went to play with his band at age 17.  Taylor’s also been considered by Mayall as one of the best slide-guitarists of the business).

Legend has it that it was John who recommended the young Taylor to a certain Sir Mick Jagger just after Brian Jones had died.  And history was in the making, as the young Taylor would leave his “mentor” Mayall to go play with the world’s “greatest rock and roll band” from 1969-74.

Mayall was joined on stage in Rome for his classic “jam session blues” concert, a mix of traditional Afro-American rhythms and jazz, by an outstanding back-up band made up of: Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums.  Mayall’s repertoire also included songs from his recent albums, “Tough” and “Live in London”.

Beady Eye in Rome February 17th, 2014

Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye live in Rome 

Liam Gallagher, the other half of a former great band, Oasis, played live to a packed audience at Ciampino’s (the military airport of Rome) Orion club with his new group (formed in 2009), Beady Eye. 

Beady Eye’s origins came about after the break-up of Oasis (once defined by Liam as the “world’s greatest band”) when his older brother Noel quit the group in August 2009 after the umpteenth squabble between the two. The remaining members gathered on and decided that they would "not quit making music together" and so Beady Eye was formed.  Their debut album was “Different Gear, Still Speeding”.

By November, 2009 Liam had announced that he and former Oasis band members had written new material as part of a new project, and could be gigging as early as a couple of months.  On 19 November, 2009 Liam announced that he would be recording an album with Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock. 

“The Roller” was announced as the band's first commercial single.  Fast-forward to April, 2013 when Liam announced that the band’s second album, “Be” would be released in the same year.  Their new double A-side "Iz Rite" /"Soul Love" was released in November, 2013.   

The band’s Rome show, thanks to the folks at Live Nation, included Liam on vocals, Gem Archer and Andy Bell on guitars and drummer Chris Sharrock, all four former members of Oasis.   And it happens with all great bands at one point during the show the power went off leaving both the band and fans up in the air.  Nevertheless, patience prevailed on behalf of Liam and his mates as the show continued shortly after when the electrical glitch was finally sorted out.

In the meantime, Liam has clearly stated that he wants to celebrate “Definitely Maybe”, the LP which put Oasis on the international music map 20 years ago.  Could this perhaps mean an Oasis Part II on the horizon?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Eclectic Anna Calvi in concert in Rome, Italy February 24th, 2014

English singer-songwriter and eclectic guitarist Anna Calvi, the so-called “New Patti Smith”, played to an appreciative crowd in Rome’s Auditorium.   

The 34 four year-old musician was born to an English mother and an Italian father and originally hails from Twickenham.  She began playing guitar as a child and studied music in college. Calvi worked as a guitar instructor while recording her debut album over a period of several years.  The album was released in the United Kingdom in January 2011 to critical praise and entered the Album Charts at number 40 and was later nominated for a prize at the BRIT Award, catching along the way the attention of both Brian Eno and Nick Cave.  

Her second album, “One Breath”, was released on October 7,  2013 in the United Kingdom and United States.  Calvi has gained critical attention for her voice, guitar playing and live performances.  She has said that she tries to create the sounds of other instruments through her guitar and also incorporates in her music the world of flamenco in her stage outfits.   Musically-speaking, she’s been compared to the likes of PJ Harvey and Siouxsie.

Calvi's style has also been described as dark, romantic and atmospheric pop.  As far as her latest album is concerned, Calvi said the following: “One Breath is the moment before you’ve got to open yourself up, and it’s about how terrifying that is.  It’s scary and it’s thrilling.  It’s also full of hope, because whatever has to happen hasn’t happened yet”. 

Her Rome concert was sold-out, signifying a small and enthusiastic “Anna Calvi Legion” out there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Nu metal band Korn storms Atlantico venue in Rome February 2, 2015

California’s nu metal band Korn stormed their way through Rome.

Korn, the American nu metal band from California, stormed Rome’s Atlantico theater during their Italian tour.  

With guitar and backing vocals member Brian “Head” Welch solidly back in the saddle (he left the band in 2005 and returned eight years later), the American band, which was formed back in 1993, ripped apart the theater in Rome, and along the way drove hard-core Korn fans wild.  As of 2012 the band has sold over 35 million copies of their albums worldwide and has managed to win two prestigious Grammy Awards out of seven nominations.    

Their eleventh studio album, “The Paradigm Shift, was released in 2013.  The release of their twelfth studio album is slated for 2015.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Patty Pravo in concert in Rome, Italy February 10, 2014

The former “Girl of the Piper Club”, Patty Pravo, sang to a sold-out audience in Rome’s Auditorium theater.

Italian singer Nicoletta Strambelli, Patty Pravo’s real name, played in front of a sold-out audience in Rome’s Auditorium theater.  The 65 year-old Venetian-born singer is still the undisputed queen of Italian pop music, right behind another incredible icon of Italian music, Mina.

Pravo’s very first single dates back to 1966, “Ragazzo Triste” (Sad Boy), which she again sang in Rome.  In an incredibile career that now spans close to 50 years, Pravo has appeared eight times at Italy’s famous yearly song contest, the “San Remo Festival”.

Pravo’s illustrious musical past had also included meeting the likes of American poet Ezra Pound and Angelo Roncalli (better known to the entire world as Pope John XXIII).  Her connection with Rome’s legendary Piper night club dates back to her very early career when at age 15 she left home to live in London and then in Rome where she began her musical career at the famous night club.  Her first single “Sad Boy” was the Italian version of Sonny & Cher’s “But You’re Mine” and was actually broadcast on Vatican Radio.

Given the recent death of another great singer, Lou Reed, Pravo also sang in Rome “I Giardini di Kensington” (The Kensington Gardens), a cover version of Reed’s famous “Walk On The Wild Side”.  Pravo was backed-up on stage by a six-piece band.

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