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Eros Ramazzotti at Barclay Center

Filed under: Live Music,Reviews — doktorjohn October 25, 2013 @ 1:50 am

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October 21, 2013

This coming February will mark 30 years of fervid fan status for me and my circle of musically-worldly friends and family. First appearing at the 1984 San Remo Festival held in the Riviera resort town of the same name, this incredibly talented and charismatic punk Roman kid in a motorcycle jacket has been catapulted to the top of the pop music world. At this time, with no less than ten hugely successful albums, he is a household name everywhere from Germany and his native Italy to the farthest reaches of Latin America and Canada. Even in the USA, where Italian pop singers are a neglected genre, he easily sells out such venues as Radio City and the gargantuan Barclay Center, as he did just recently, coming off a previous night’s sell-out crowd in Atlantic City, NJ. For his legion of fans, virtually every one of his hundred or so songs (the majority of which he co-writes) is a stand-alone single hit.

The vast body of Ramazzotti’s ouvre is sung in Italian which he enunciates with impeccable, music-friendly diction, delivered with a level of emotional sincerity as well as compositional genius that is a special pleasure to listeners of any linguistic stripe. Most of his albums are reproduced in Spanish versions. His worldwide stature has such stars as Cher, Santana and Wyclef Jean eager to sing duets with him.

As on every previous appearance, Ramazzotti’s stage show included a fabulous light show and mammoth orchestral presentation, accompanied by virtuoso performers on percussion, bass, guitars, keyboards and sax along with deliciously talented female and male back-up vocalists. Ramazzotti himself proved to be by now a dedicated and surprisingly accomplished guitarist.

Despite all these positives that Eros Ramazzotti had going for him, the overall experience of the concert was mostly disappointing. After opening with a handful of well-arranged singles from the 2012 hit album, including the title track, “Noi” (“Us”), he went to his standard repertoire. That’s where the concert went wrong. Instead of warm, respectful renditions of these beloved songs, they were delivered in a bombastic style, the band playing melodies and rhythms that actually competed with and contradicted that of the song being sung. Instead of full versions, Ramazzotti strung together inadequate, amputated versions into quick-fix medleys that short-changed the originals. Most egregious of all was the casual and off-handed inclusion of a mere fragment of “Terra Promessa,” his uber hit about coming to America, that would have been perfect for special presentation to this American audience, most of whom trace their fandom to this, his debut hit. For his part, Ramazzotti inappropriately revealed an objectionable fatigue and distaste for his own repertoire by talking, rather than singing the lyrics, without respect to the cadence of the music and by unpleasant lapses into falsetto. One of the few songs he treated at least respectfully was the magnificent “Musica E,” which was performed in its classic mode, although he could have devoted more to this monumental work.

Newcomers to the music must surely have wondered why there existed such devotion to this chaotic mish-mosh of excessively and inappropriately overstated blues and jazz that completely swamped and obliterated the character of the music. The old, die-hard fans were so ecstatic to just see their musical idol live that most seemed oblivious to his failure to deliver on their expectations.

Baggy jeans and tee-shirt seems to be Ramazzotti’s signature look, but in this instance it came a little too close to revealing his boredom and lack of respect for the magnificent body of his work that placed him at the top of the music world. Eros seems to have forgotten the “bella” in the Italian mandate to always present a “bella figura.”

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