May 2007

Vinicio Capossela with Marc Ribot
May 18, 2007 Lula Lounge Toronto
Myths And Archetypes
by Joyce Corbett with photos by Roger Humbert
A black top hat perches on a cape of black and red feathers draped over a black electric piano. It is already apparent that Tom Waits is one of Vinicio Capossela’s influences. The top hat has usurped the skull but the feathered cape evokes voodoo night-tripper Dr.John. As the evening progresses, other spirits will stir — Leonard Cohen, a young Bob Dylan, even a dramatic surge of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins when top-hatted Capossela drapes the cape over his shoulders, flapping feathered wings, croaking and singing “The Grim Crow” (Corvo Torvo).

Elegantly attired in Italian suits, drummer Zeno de Rossi and bass player Glauco Zuppiroli take their stations at the back of the stage. A more casual Marc Ribot settles quietly on a chair across the stage from the piano. Front and centre, dressed in a simple black suit such as those worn by undertakers or Italian peasants in old black and white movies, Vinicio Capossela greets us with “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to start with a little ceremony”. The sharp-featured Capossela, head full of curly black hair, rasps an ancient middle-eastern-gypsy-klezmer-punk-melody. Marc Ribot is playing banjo.

That introductory piece was “Non Trattare” (Do Not Bargain) from Capossela’s CD Ovunque proteggi (Everywhere Protect). The album was hugely successful in Italy and subsequently released in Spain after Capossela’s concerts there drew full houses. This May Friday night was Capossela’s first Canadian appearance. Some, such as the young man with guitar case sitting near me and others including myself, previously unaware of Capossela and not Italian speakers, had come to hear extraordinary guitarist Marc Ribot. It would become apparent that many, probably most, of the audience were Italian-speaking and came to hear Capossela. They listened, laughed, cheered and already knew the words; they clapped, shouted bellisima and even sang softly along with Capossela on the gentle “Con una rosa” (With a Rose) from his newest project, Nel Niente sotto il Sole – Grand Tour, a film and live recording issued on DVD/CD in December 2006.

Great effort was made to give non-Italian speakers the full experience of the show. Not only was there a screen with an English translation of the song lyrics hanging above the stage but printed translations were available on all of the tables in the room. These lyrics deal with the mythological, the biblical, the archetypal battles between good and evil and the yearning for love and salvation. There’s lots of humour in this show.

Vinicio Capossela

Marc Ribot
Donning masks and costumes from Minotaur to Medusa to Army Redcoat, Capossela held our attention with a variety of musical styles and moods from the teasing fun of the tragi-comic “Medusa Cha Cha Cha” to the ever-accelerating circus-flavoured music of “Maraja” with its rock ‘n roll break to the blues/cabaret/French film noir “Slide Away, Go Away”. On a more serious and very surprising note was Capossela’s recital in Italian of a few lines from his book dedicated to Canadian pianist Glenn Gould and their recital in English from a translator. Capossela was enthralled with the idea of being in the city in which Glenn Gould was born and lived.

For someone who had never before heard Vinicio Capossela, it was an eye-opening evening. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Marc Ribot live for the first time, I discovered another excellent bass player and a fine drummer but most of all I came away amazed at the originality of Capossela’s work and the effort he put into communicating with an English-speaking audience. No matter what language you speak, Capossela is an interesting artist.

The musicians
Vinicio Capossela – vocals, guitar, keyboard, theatrics, poetry
Marc Ribot – guitar
Glauco Zuppiroli – bass
Zeno de Rossi - drums
We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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