Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Italia Wave – Thursday

They said it couldn’t be done but what the hell do they know anyway? We have had our first sighting of GAA county colours at an Italia rock festival. All will be revealed below the fold. The Tuscan tax-payer is …

Fri, Jul 20, 2007, 09:31


They said it couldn’t be done but what the hell do they know anyway? We have had our first sighting of GAA county colours at an Italia rock festival. All will be revealed below the fold.

The Tuscan tax-payer is paying for Italia Wave. After all, when you take into account the virtual lack of corporate frontage compared to other European fests (indeed, one of the stages is sponsored by Action Aid instead of a big stupid telecoms company as is usually the norm) and the lack of an admission charge, someone either has deep pockets or is extremely good at plamasing politicians.

Stand up then and take a bow the local, regiona, national and – yes – European authorities who have opened their wallets and helped out promoters Fondazione Arezzo Wave Italia. Wonder what the regular Firenze promoters make of that? And wonder what would the Irish governmental equivalents do if approached to fund a five day music fest?

Tre allegri ragazzi morti are three masked men playing pretty indie rock. The skull masks may indicte menace but there’s little in the music to suggest any such front. Pleasant soundtracks for lolling in the dust.

A Toys Orchestra start out sounding like one thing and end up sounding something completely different. It’s the metamorphosis which is the most interesting of all, suggesting a band moving from common-or-garden dullsville indie to more experimental terrain. Post-gig queries indicate that the more interesting stuff comes from their “Technicolour Dreams” album.

Tunng’s pastoral folk and rampant Lemon Jelly-like slo-mo and horizontal sampledica is perfect for a lazy evening. The collective spend much of the set road-testing material from soon-come second album “Good Arrows”, but it’s the well-worn tunes from earlier albums like “Comments of the Inner Chorus” which really zing loudest and clearest. The equivalent of a soft gentle breeze on a very hot beach.

You guessed by now, of course, that it was CSS’s Lovefoxxx who was rocking the GAA colours. It took her a while but there’s no mistaking those black and amber stripes for anything else. That black and amber are the colours of the third leotard she’s sporting during the band’s razor-sharp set is neither here nor there.

A year ago, CSS were an early adopter plaything, a band of Brazilian wild kids who had this great tune called “Lets Make Love (And Listen to Death From Above)” and provided tons of colourful copy. A year on, the most telling thing is that they now play before a huge backdrop. Such a backdrop would not have fitted into the venues they were playing a year ago.

The songs are largely the same as they were back then – they’ve had little time to do anything else between tours bar add a cover version of L7’s “Pretend That We’re Dead” to the mix – but, compared to those early shows, they can now actually play those tunes.

Florence falls for CSS, especially as they’ve taken the precaution of bringing along someone who can speak Italian to translate the between song banter. Florence even hollers when Mika comes onstage to pogo around during “Lets Make Love…”

Actually, Florence plain and simple loves Mika like a fat kid loves cake. His is an extraordinary show, the crowd and the performer completely at one. Every song already seems as familiar as something you’d hear on a classic hits radio station. I know I reviewed the album, but I don’t think I listened to it more than twice.

Again, like CSS, much has changed in a few months. I saw Mika back in March at SXSW and it was good, all falsetto and flair. Now, it seems as if he’s plugged into the local electricity flow. Easily the best show this week by a guy wearing bright green trousers.

Avion Travel is where Peppe Servillo and his friends from Naples take us to the theatre. Tom Waits post-junkyard orchestrations, Avion Travel are the closest we’ll get tonight to arias and graces as they seduce and tease with songs about doomed lovers, tortured affairs of the heart and years of unrequited love (I’m guessing here).

Tinariwen’s hypnotic swirl is perfect for a time of night when the ghosts are scarpering away under the trees. The story of these Malian bad boys is probably better known at this stage (formed in Colonel Gadafy’s Libyan guerilla camps in the late 1970s, they emerged with a Stratocaster guitar in one hand and a Kalashnikov rifle in the other to fight with fellow Tuareg nomads against the Malian government) than their music.

Yet it’s worth looking beyond the romantic story of their origins and look back even further to where the hell this rootsy, scratchy and squawking sound came from. If this is indeed a postcard from where the blues began, enigmatic band leader Ibrahim Ag Alhabib and friends are not giving the game away by saying too much. Instead they use their guitars and chants to shake the sand from their desert anthems and aim for the skies. Who needs the acid some young fellow is trying to flog when you have music like this to blow your mind?