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Live Reviews

Vinicio Capossela
July 9, 2008

By Carl Negro

Highline Ballroom
New York City
Photo: Lucia Grillo

One of the most important things about Vinicio Capossela and his music is that he spends a great amount of time plotting out his performances. He elegantly draws his lyrics and musical forms from the darker corners of history and society, and treats the stage like a new medium for discarded ideas. Unfortunately, the reaction he gets from American audiences doesn't do justice to his talent and charisma. In Italy he performs for thousands, and his shows are always high energy. The crowds he draws in smaller capacity, sit-down clubs like the Highline Ballroom last Wednesday or Joe's Pub earlier in the year are genuinely enthusiastic and want to experience his music, but also don't want to spill their glass of wine in the process.

Maybe it's that Americans are too polite or self-conscious, and think you should only get revved up at a rock n' roll show. Culture is definitely a factor: the loyal contingent of Italian expats that always turn out for Capossela's American gigs is the most visibly raucous and supportive segment of the crowd. And of course language is always an issue. Capossela shouldn't have to work so hard to get people on their feet for songs called "Al Veglione" and "L'Uomo Vivo (Inno Al Gioia)," which roughly translates to "To The Dance" and "The Man Is Alive (Hymn of Joy)," respectively. The smaller scale of the venue was, however, a compliment to the intimate finale "Ovunque Proteggi" even more so during the gentle swaying and candlelight of the sailor's elegy "Santissima Dei Naufragati".

Perhaps by the time his next album titled Da Solo is released in October, Vinicio Capossela's American fans will realize what the Italians have known all along the audience's participation is just as important to Capossela's performances as his crow's cape, the rose petals, or even infamous minotaur/medusa masks. Put down the drink and dance.