While this review is dated, it was the second live performance of Il Volo I have attended. The reaction is more of a character study than a musical review. These are my own impressions of Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca.
Location: Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, Massachusetts
Almost a year ago to the week, I attended my first Il Volo concert at this very location. It was a leap of faith that brought me to the first concert and based on remembrance, I can say without doubt that Il Volo (IV) made an artistic leap in presentation and song for 2013. Gianluca Ginoble, Piero Barone and Ignazio Boschetto were wonderful in every way. The Boston audience was delighted with two full hours of non-stop exciting entertainment. IV twirled and sang up a spell of enchantment under a bright, crisp waxing harvest moon.
The Italians have a phrase and sense of living called Bella Figura. La Bella Figura as defined in EyeItalia: “Bella figura goes well beyond image, visual beauty and presentation…it also is defined by behavior: knowing how to properly and graciously interact with others in any social or public situation. Exhibiting good manners, tact and gentility is an essential component of “cutting a beautiful figure”. I came to understand the visual meaning of this phrase during this concert. From head to toe, the cut of the hair, the drape of the fabric, sheen to the shoes, the physique and aura of class was present in each artist. The opening number, Quest’Amore, with the soothing, stirring strings of violins ushered in the silhouetted images of GG, Igny and Piero. As each artist was projected onto the screen, the excitement began to build until the beautiful moment they walked towards us on stage singing with strength and confidence. I was bewitched and nothing else mattered. All the difficulties of life that are sometimes carried along everywhere faded away. I was in love. Welcomed, esteemed and given pure love.
Piero was magnificent in voice, so graceful, powerful and clear. In live performance, his lyrical spinto tenor can be overwhelming and conveys not only a beautiful sound but a virtual aura that can surround the senses. I truly think if he keeps on developing his art, he will have one of the finest voices of his generation. He has a tremble, con voce tremante or delicate weep at times in his voice. As his eyes hold that naturally down turned tilt conveying a bit of sadness within, so does his voice in song, all at once it is hope, sorrow and joy. I watched him extend such courtesy to fans and was surprised at his genuine attempts at inclusiveness. He came off the stage towards my section of the audience to find his Maria. He tried to select a little girl from deep in the row of fans but was thwarted by the crowd. With grace he kept the show moving forward with a quick flexible timing. Towards the end of the show, I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I went to the very edge of the stage as IV were shaking hands with fans. I threw aside my normal bashful ways and went right up to Piero and smiled, extending my hand. He paused, looked down and reached down to greet me. Ladies, his hand was cool and the touch just right. I will treasure this memory for the rest of my days.
Gianluca was debonair incarnate. Frank Sinatra was popular before my time but I have strong memories of his success as a singer and actor. GG’s rendition of Night and Day was smooth, relaxing and sexy. I love that way he puts his whole body into the notes. He sat on the stool and crooned to us. He just has such style and presence. My hope is that given his age and beauty, he will continue to explore and popularize a more sophisticated manner for young male artists. In stance alone, he manages to convey what the French call: C’est si bon. Or, better in Italian: Molto elegante. At the end of the show, I stayed close to the edge of the stage after shaking hands with Piero, I was as close as I could be when the guys sang a cappella a portion of Smile, the look of satisfaction on his face, the light smile, and the look of love to the audience just radiated out to us. He was well pleased with the show.
True confessions, until Saturday night, I did not appreciate Ignazio. Perhaps the show last year caught him at the wrong moment for me as a fan. I saw a teenager, uncomfortable at times and out of sync. Tonight, he was fantastic. I loved his funny bone, his flirtatious, loving manner with Piero, Gianluca and of course all of us. During the song, Granada, Igny pantomimed winding up Piero as if he were a watch or toy, letting go of the key the moment Piero finds his long musical note in the song. He also revealed his savviness and intelligence as a performer. He knows how to make us all feel so welcome. Beyond that, his skill as an artist was remarkable. He hit all the notes, held them long, and sang from deep in the body. I was able to film him singing “Memory” and continue to enjoy this personal memory of his gift. Unfortunately, he did not come to the side of the stage and I was not able to shake hands or share my joy at discovering him as a man and artist. I more than admire his growth as an artist and look forward to following his career.
There were several moments of musical brilliance on stage. During the song Surrender, on the We Are Love: Special Edition CD, Piero hits an exciting high note. In performance, at this very moment, the three twirled closer together on stage and hit their highest note all at the same time. The notes were held for several seconds. The harmonics were pure Il Volo. The closest approximation I can relay is the sound made when a large crystal bowl is played. The tone and vibration carry outward and through the entire body. They are so compelling as people, joyful and sincere.
For the Boston audience, there was a moment of courage and support in recognition of the Marathon Bombing that had taken place in April of 2013. Piero started talking to us about Boston Strong and remembering what happened. IV sang the National Anthem to recognize the fallen and go forward empowered to face the worst of fears.
Meeting the fans who come from far and wide to attend the show is a part of the experience. In line waiting for the gates to open, I met a couple from Austin Texas who had decided to take a vacation in Boston as well as attend the performance staying after the show for the Meet and Greet. They came so far and this was the highlight of the trip. I wish every fan could attend a live performance. IV did understand the importance of reaching out to us from the stage. The guys stand in front of the audience and look out at each person, look around slowly and take their time to catch your eye. As they gaze at you with a smile from the heart, so do you reply in the same way. At the moment the eyes meet, the connection is formed. They are on stage, but could easily walk off stage and be by your side. Somehow, they invite every heart be a part of it all. The theme of the tour is perfect: We Are Love. The secret of IV is their message of love; as it is something to be given, it is something to be accepted and returned.