domenica 22 settembre 2019

Veroodstock 11th edition or The black star on Veruno 2Days Prog+1 had to give up

L'immagine può contenere: 8 persone, folla
All Photo by Vincenzo Nicolello except where indicated

Hi to those who read me!

Even if there's low activity on this blog, I can see always a good number of contacts who stop on the silly things I use to write! I'm proud of it! Thank you!

So here we are once more to talk about the most famous Italian Prog Festival, which takes  place in the little town named Veruno.
The Festival, now is at its 11th edition, is growing year by year, faster than some years ago!
I realized that on the very first day, on Friday 6/9/19, the audience was about 2000 people, and this hardly happened in the preceding editions! Great!

There are many reasons why this happens:

1.  Veruno Prog (as we use to call it in short) is totally free of charge. You have only to buy some soap to remove the stamp printed on you hand when you come in Piazzetta della Musica (Music Square), where it takes place!

2. Veruno Prog is greatly managed and everyone, from the musicians to the audience, feels free, happy and fully satisfied. It's not a mystery that several musicians would like to come back and sometimes they do it with another band or as audience!

Veruno is Magic!

This year also the food (apart pizza, but I'm from Naples... try to understand me!) was better than in the past!

3. Friendship. The Festival management and crew, the audience and the musicians are happy to talk one to each other without being bored by useless and stupid fanaticisms like banners or posters or silly choirs.
Surely there are musicians we face with more admiration than others , but we all love music and it's great to talk with them about it!
Particularly, there's always a festive atmosphere which leads to smiles, jokes and enthusiasm.
In those three days all of us have the chance to meet people who are difficult to reach during the rest of the year, and there are enthusiastic hugs and kisses everywhere!
They come from different places on Earth: Italy (obviously), England, Japan, France, Austria, Germany, Greece, Peru, United States, Northern Europe and so on!

Surely in those three days everyone leaves behind his everyday problems and lives music and friends like never in the rest of the year. That's why I use to call it Veroodstock

4. The bands which take turns on the Main Stage (but also in the Auditorium) are always fine and quite good, regardless of  everyone's taste. This means, you may like them or not, but the level is always quite high.

5. The Neighbourhood is beautiful, since Veruno is a country land between two astonishing lakes: Lago Maggiore and Lago D'Orta. So in the morning you can go and enjoy breathless landscapes and typical northern Italy towns.

6. The Weather is generally fine, even if this year was a bit too cold for the very beginning of September and it rained more than usual.
Alberto Temporelli's motto is "In Veruno always shines the sun... of good music"!

Unfortunately this edition was born under a black star.
Caused by familiar unpleasant events the two headliners which should have played on saturday (Bjorn Rijs and King's X) have given forfait just few days before the opening of the Festival!
I can only vaguely imagine what passed in Alberto Temporelli's head in that moments!
But our hero immediately raised up a task force and quickly replaced the bands with others of high (in one case higher...) level!
The following lineup shows the ultimate version, with the "substitutes" Lazuli and Alan Simon's Excalibur

We always use to say that Veruno Prog is ONESHOT and Lazuli came in 2012!

Ok. "If rules are to be broken, better to do it in the best way" said Octavia Brown, our dear Fairy presenter  in a Facebook note!
However Lazuli have always been "rule breakers" for Veruno!
In 2012 the band was the first (and unique until now) "not last headliner" to be forced by the audience to come back on stage for the encore!

Lazuli were called on Thursday night to come on Friday night from France and play on Saturday. Only PURE FRIENDS act like them! And Lazuli are Veruno Prog and Temporelli's great friends!

OK. Let's come back to the Music.

L'immagine può contenere: una o più persone e notteAs usual the band were introduced on stage with verve and sympathy by Octavia Brown, who this year showed a new kind of Fairy wings, enlightened in blue light! Very beautiful!
(Photo by Enrico Rolandi)

I think that the worst attitude of nowadays Prog is the lack of personality.
Since there's still a growing interest around this kind of music, there are lots of bands which grow up as mushrooms, but unfortunately they all play "as someone else", not as themselves.
In several cases, when often I find it boring to my ears and musical taste, I use to say they play adopting a "low level wilsonism", or in other cases they are a "Genesis pale simulacrum" (or Pink Floyd, or others) or more, they play "uselessly complicated", as if they thought about a song, found it was 4/4 and forced it to 7/8 or another odd tempo.

This is NOT the case for UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA, one of the great examples of a great band born in Italy.
L'immagine può contenere: 6 persone, persone che sorridono, persone in piedi, folla e spazio all'aperto
UTO are almost unique with their powerful rhythm section, the great guitar and sax openings, the brilliant voice of the singer Ana Torres Fraile
UTO music is not easy or immediate, since it merges jazz, classic/lyrical and rock motifs, but it's fascinating, enriched with stratified interweaving of instruments, that only great musicians can create and play live on stage!
Someone uses to link them with Zehul, but I find their rhythm section, their harmonizations and their musical structures are more complex and effective than Zehul.
Maybe they should have deserved a better position in the line up than the Festival opening...
If you love something different, not too easy but fascinating, you should taste UTO music!

This is NOT the case for LAZULI, one of the greatest LIVE bands in the prog neighbourhood!L'immagine può contenere: 6 persone, persone che sorridono, persone in piedi e campo da basket 
LAZULI shock the audience with their power, with the desperate sound of Leode (yes, it always seems to cry!) played by Claude Leonetti, with their impressive wall of sound!
Even before Dominc Leonetti (their parents are from Abruzzo-Italy) starts to sing, you can feel something that brings France in your mind.
The magic of LAZULI music is that if you listen to their albums, comfortably sat on your sofa, you cannot reach the emotions that shock you when the band is on stage! 

This NOT the case for IL BACIO DELLA MEDUSA, where you can feel a taste of Italy in every music passage, where Eva Morelli's saxes and flutes are not a backside instrument, but an important part of the sound of the band, where
L'immagine può contenere: 8 persone, persone che sorridono, follaSimone Cecchini's histrionic voice is powerful and roaring and the other musicians are greatly proficient and talented. You may listen to something jazzy, especially in sax lines, or dark prog in the way of northern Europe bands, but the happy choice is to search for melody and passionate lyrics as in the beautiful "Discesa agli inferi di un giovane amante".
The true happy choice, for the audience, was to be down the stage during their performance!

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical on BALLETTO DI BRONZO performance, maybe because I was thinking that it may sound as a bit dated music.
L'immagine può contenere: 1 persona, sul palcoOK. I was really very wrong! 
Gianni Leone's skill has reached its high recreating a new and modern rhythm section and giving to music coming from the seventies an updated dress! 
Happy to notice I was in error!
Leone, as in the usual way of musicians from Naples (Osanna, for example), also offers a great theatrical show on stage, wearing dresses and masks, always speaking and mocking to the audience! Really great!

What could I say on ACQUA FRAGILE if not that Bernardo Lanzetti is still one of the best singers we have in Italy?
L'immagine può contenere: 8 persone, persone che sorridono, follaStill now his voice is powerful, well modulated and rich with emphasis.
I have noticed a great work on vocals harmonies, sometimes very surprising!
Musically is not my cup of tea, but the audience was on fire. Good!

In the end I was really shocked by the audience at the ARENA performance!

I truly was not aware they have such a huge number of fans in Italy!
L'immagine può contenere: 6 persone, persone che sorridono, follaI have to be honest with you: in the past I had a little love affair with ARENA, but it rapidly vanished when my NewProg idiosyncrasy grew fast...
But during their performance I've found myself singing their old songs, and it's been as meeting an old friend: never heard and seen anymore for a long time, but with the sensation you have talked with him the day before! Goosebumps!

I have also to say that I've found CANTINA SOCIALE, the band that played on the first two days at the Auditorium, very delightful!
While OVERTURE seemed to me too classical and down with energy and dynamics.

"The Rest will flow" sang Steven Wilson in his Porcupine Tree days...

In the rest of performances I didn't find something really interesting.
Obviously they are all good bands and you know it's just a matter of taste, but CARAVAN played a playlist too easy-listening, and I found amusing to listen some tracks from In the Land of Grey and Pink with the beautiful 'Nine Feet Underground' among them.
FLOR DE LOTO are very talented, sometimes it seemed to me to listen to something like Inti Illimani heavy rock... but that's all.
VERBAL DELIRIUM I preferred the very first part of their performance, where I heard something coming from Greece, than it slipped in something too generic, not interesting to me.
ALAN SIMON'S EXCALIBUR, since it was prepared in a very little time, didn't seem at their best. But I also have to say that this kind of experiments rarely gain my attention. They always sound too pompous and uninspired!
ARCADELT are too Genesis-clone to gain my attention.
At the end IRON BUTTERFLY... they share with Vanilla Fudge (Seen in the preceding edition) the same amount of Prog attitude. Both bands made a single psychedelic song more  than the rest of their rock blues songs ('In a Gadda Da Vida' and 'Some Velvet Morning' respectively) and after 50 years we assume they can be among Prog bands...

As always at Veroodstock, Music is important for two things: one is to listen to bands you already know and to approach new bands otherwise you would never even know  their existence (for example last year I found Universe by the Ear and Smalltape very interesting); the second is that you always find old and new friends to share moments with: having fun, walking, talking, smiling, kissing and hugging apparently without any reason (but the true reason is we all are happy to be together once again!), drinking and eating until deep night!

it's always traumatic when it all ends and you're forced to come back to everyday life!

Veruno is Magic!

I cannot promise to you (once again) to be more prolific on this blog, but please, don't forget it!
I have some interesting things to say, but it's hard to find enough time to write them down!

See you next time!
Hopefully BEFORE 2Days Prog+1 12th edition...