Alex Britti in Concert

This summer we went to a concert by Alex Britti, a singer-songwriter as yet unknown outside Europe. He’s popular with the bubblegum set for a few immensely singable songs such asLa Vasca (The Bathtub), but he considers himself more a guitarist – and turns out to be a hell of a good one.Unfortunately, we hardly got to hear him sing during the concert, due to the chorus of teenyboppers who sang along enthusiastically (and badly) with most of the songs. Early on, I asked the girls behind us to stop: “I came to hear him, not you,” I pointed out. Their mother retorted: “Lady, if you want to hear the music, buy the CD. This is a concert.”

Defeated by this, er, logic, I retired from the battle, and had to be grateful for the guitar solos: delightfully un-singalongable, and very well played. These seemed to confuse much of the audience, who muttered to each other: “What song is this?” or got up and went for a beer.

Alex Britti must be frustrated. He’s made lots of money and gained some artistic freedom thanks to his lighter bestsellers, but his audience doesn’t seem to understand or appreciate the stuff that he himself likes best!

Other musical experiences this summer were less than stellar. Roseto, the little town on the Adriatic coast where my in-laws live, used to be a pleasantly sleepy place with nothing to do at night except stroll around, eat gelato, and watch kids on the carnival rides. But now it aspires to the trendy disco status of the Adriatic’s hotter spots, so the beachfront establishments all have permission to play music til 1 or 2 am.

This would be somewhat bearable, or at least understandable, if the music was good. However, it was all REALLY bad, mostly youngsters basically doing karaoke with automated music machines – their equipment was far more impressive than their abilities deserved.

One band started out relatively promising, playing real instruments, with an admirable selection of blues tunes and guitar licks ripped off from Stevie Ray Vaughan. But the guitar wasn’t quite in tune with the keyboard, and the singer wasn’t in tune with anything. After hearing “Pride and Joy” murdered two or three times, we were ready to strangle the drunk who kept demanding encores.

We could easily perceive even that detail, because my in-laws’ apartment overlooks the beach, within a stone’s throw of two of these establishments (alas, I had no stones). After we finally dropped off to sleep at 2 am one night, I was awoken at 8:00 by a group of retirees just arrived on an group tour. “Ecco il mare!” shouted one enthusiastic fellow – “Look! The sea!” (And just what did you expect to find on a trip to the seaside…?)

Note: I have also translated some of Alex Britti’s songs into English.

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