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Melting Clock/Panther & C. - L'Angelo Azzurro, Genova

9th March 2018

Melting Clock/Panther & C. - L'Angelo Azzurro, Genova

At the beginning of 2018 the proprietors of L’Angelo Azzurro posted a message on their Facebook page that suggested that after almost nine years of putting on concerts they were very likely to have to close down for good because they had insufficient funds to cover their rent and were facing eviction. The energy, dedication and passion they’d put into the club really could not be questioned and the local musicians I’ve spoken to were seriously concerned about the loss of a venue that had been very supportive of the Genova progressive rock community; limiting the potential exposure of bands of whatever genre would have undoubtedly had an impact on a number of up-and-coming local bands.
Owners Danilo Lombardo and Katya Daffinoti launched an appeal for €6000 through the issue of shares and within the first three days had managed to collect over a third of that sum, prompting them to acknowledge that the club was more than their business, it belonged to family, friends, musicians and music fans within the community as ‘a shelter and a reference point.’ They received many supportive messages which indicated that their commitment over the past few years had obviously left good memories with the musicians who came to play and those in the audience who came to watch. By the end of January they were very close to reaching the total and held open meetings to discuss future plans and suggestions for improvement. I arrived at the club, still going strong and with more performances announced to find the place crowded and buzzing with anticipation.
I’d gone along to support Melting Clock, playing their third gig and premiering some new material that had been written for their forthcoming album and the event, part of a series organised by local impresario Marina Montobbio called ‘Lady Prog Nights’ was made even more attractive by the second act of the evening who already have two high calibre symphonic prog albums under their belt, Panther & C.
I was seated behind a table occupied by members of Panther & C. along with their friends and family and was told by flautist/vocalist Mauro Serpe that he’d be joining Melting Clock on stage, for what I assumed was one of the special surprises I’d heard hints about. The event began with a short introductory speech by Montobbio about the club and the special brand of Genovese symphonic prog we were about to be treated to, but there was a delay before Melting Clock could start because there were problems with Simone Caffè’s acoustic guitar lead which it took a little while to rectify. One fixed, the set commenced with the short instrumental Quello che rimane, a track very much in keeping with the melodic symphonic prog style that characterises the band, and this was followed by L’occhio dello sciacallo, Banalmente, Caleidoscopio and Strade affollate, with each song revealing nuances I’d not previously detected as the musicians had become more confident in their performance. I’ve previously compared them to Renaissance and while Emanuela Vedana’s voice matches Annie Haslam’s beautiful vocals, there’s something more adventurous about the music of Melting Clock, something in the layered sounds of the twin guitars of Caffè and Stefano Amadei that add an extra degree of complexity. If I was detecting new subtleties in the songs I’d heard before, I wasn’t prepared for the latest composition to be given its live premiere, Vetro, which involved sudden stops and changes and reminded me of the early classic Italian prog bands. Stefano and Sandro Amadei both suggested that they’d been a little nervous of tackling something of that difficulty for the first time in front of an audience but I thought it sounded remarkably tight and contrasted nicely with the flowing tunes I associate with the band. The technical challenge faced by the musicians, not least drummer Francesco Fiorito and bassist Alessandro Bosca, will have tested the audience in a different way but the applause at the end of the song suggested that the crowd really appreciated an excellent piece of music.
We were back on familiar territory for the next two songs, my favourite Antares and the evocative Sono Luce before finishing with a cover version of a prog classic. In acknowledgement of Marina Montobbio’s fantastic efforts getting the series of concerts off the ground, they accurately recreated a song that originally featured Steve Hackett, one of her all-time favourite musicians, Firth of Fifth, with flute provided by Serpe.
Apart from the glitch at the beginning of the set, the sound was pretty good. The mixing desk was at the side of the stage so sound engineer Andrea Torretta had to walk out in front of the band to judge how well he’d balanced the instruments and it took him a couple of trips to get Vedana’s vocals to a suitable level in the mix. Being a bit of a fan of keyboards, I wouldn’t have complained if they’d been a little clearer when the band was in full flight.
The Panther & C. performance was as good and professional as you’d expect. I’m relatively familiar with their music and was able to pick out more subtleties in their music, too. The set was a mixture of material from their two albums, including my personal favourite ...e continua ad essere segueing into Giusto equilibrio) but whereas you expect them to play high quality symphonic prog the theatrics of Serpe also play an important role, and these appeared more overt than on the other occasions I’d seen them perform, prompting me to reappraise the band. The musicianship is of a very high standard (Serpe on flute and vocals; Alessandro La Corte on keyboards; Riccardo Mazzarini on guitars; Giorgio Boleto on bass; and Falco Fedele on drums) and the compositions are well-crafted with poetic lyrics, allowing them to tell a very good story through both music and words; add in the use of masks and it’s clear that they’ve derived inspiration from early Genesis.
It was really good to meet up with friends from previous trips to the city and while I chatted to a number of musicians from the local area at the end of the concert, it was patently obvious how much the club meant to this community and what a loss it would be if L’Angelo Azzurro was forced to close. Every time I visit the city I’m awed by the friendliness of everyone involved in the prog scene in Genova: the support from the staff at Black Widow Records, the work and enthusiasm of Montobbio, and a world of welcoming musicians.

This review was taken from the now-lost blog ‘Lady Prog at L’Angelo Azzurro’ originally posted on 19th March 2018

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