Melting Clock - L'Angelo Azzurro, Genova
26th November 2022
L' Angelo Azzurro is one of the few rock venues now left in Genova and on a chilly November night it was filled with an enthusiastic crowd listening to two hours of exceptional music from Melting Clock. Most of the set was taken from their critically acclaimed debut album Destinazioni (2019) but we were also treated to four tracks from a forthcoming album, Vernice, Altrove, Il mondo al suo risveglio and Endurance and two cover songs. I’d been forewarned of the intention of including some left-field material by other artists at a gig when I met up with a few members of the group at the Porto Antico Prog Fest in the summer where Melting Clock had to cancel their appearance because of a Covid infection within their ranks, though at that stage nothing had been decided. The first of the covers fitted that ‘unexpected’ description - a brilliant version of Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos - a song which chimes with the band's politics and featured an expressive performance from vocalist Emanuela Vedana, and the other was an accurate recreation of Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts I – V), instantly recognisable from the opening keyboard chord and tinkling arpeggio, and something closer to the symphonic prog you’d associate with the band.
The Melting Clock musical DNA is evident in the new material but the extent of evolution is also quite obvious, partly because the ideas for the music come from all the band members. While they maintain their distinctive rhythmic and harmonic dynamics they've also embraced wider influences, for instance keyboard player Sandro Amadei cites an interest in jazz and though he might disagree with the tag, he plays a jazzy piano intermezzo dividing the slower tempo introductory part and the rockier second part of Altrove, Francesco Fiorito channels his inner Gavin Harrison on Endurance with a calm assertiveness, Stefano Amadei adds more colour with a greater use of bouzouki and Alessandro Bosca, who strives for a hi-fi quality sound for his playing, extends the tonal palette available to the band with the addition of upright electric bass. The sound on the night was in fact crystal clear, courtesy of Andrea Torretta and despite the inconvenience of the mixing desk being located at the side of the stage, helping to project the intricately layered music so that it was easy to distinguish between the twin guitars of Stefano and Simone Caffè.
They joked that they might never play such a long set ever again but despite a couple of mistakes, they admirably coped with a marathon performance late into the night, repeating opener Vernice as an encore when they'd run out of rehearsed material.
Everyone found it amusing when they had to restart Antares, the first ever Melting Clock self-penned song, after Sandro started to sing a harmony vocal part at the wrong moment, but this was a display of how relaxed they were performing. Emanuela acted as spokesperson for the band, radiating confidence and charisma and though all the members are all skilled musical technicians, the sum is still greater than the individual parts.
It may be a long way from Croydon to Genova but it’s always a pleasure to meet up with friends and watch Melting Clock play. Waiting for a lift back to my hotel at the end of the gig (thank you Marina!) provided the opportunity to chat with a number of people from the Genova music scene I’d not spoken to for some time. Melting Clock, the local prog community and L’ Angelo Azzurro club are all welcoming and friendly. It won’t take much to tempt me back again.