Il Volo in Concert – Los Angeles – Greek Theater – June 7, 2014
Have you ever loved something to point where it hurt ? You know this tiny amount of heaven will only last for 2 ½ hours and then you go back to your everyday life – “reality”. You wish it would go on forever and that hurts. So I am using the title of a song Il Volo sang in their first album (see title) to describe the concert last night. So many times the singing was so beautiful that I was in tears – music that was “Painfully Beautiful”. Why did it have to end? Well, here is a review.
First, the boys, the guys, THE MEN – (Piero can’t possibly be turning 21- why do I feel so old ? ).
If ever a fan might be worried that their singing might be less than what it should be, just remember the years of training and solid family life-style they have had. This amounts to such a tremendous work ethic that I can’t imagine they will ever let us down – if they have anything to do with it. This was a perfect example of that work ethic. The vocal work was always right on the mark. The details such as HUGE BREATH support, perfect vowel shapes (watch a video of Gianluca for a lesson on perfect vowels), beautifully supported high notes (Ignazio never fails); pure vocal projection and power without the usual pop singer screaming (Hooray for Piero). This year, more than ever in the years since I have been seeing them in concert, they have shown such passion and emotion and it was laid out there on the stage for us AND we could feel it – WHEW ! Feel your heart skip a beat ! I will discuss the personal side of the boys later. Pardon my pride of ownership: “My boys were absolutely on the money” . This was 2 ½ hours of artistically superb singing !
This was the first stop on their tour that used full-live orchestra of about 30 players. Most other concerts will use five instrumentalists and pre-recorded orchestra track on computer.
The program was sort of a potluck of their favorites from the past years:
Un Amore Cosi Grande
Tous les Visages de l’Amour
We are Love
No Puede Ser (Piero’s solo)
Caruso (done as a trio this time)
Ti Voglio Tanto Bene (Ignazio’s solo)
(from the very first PBS show)
This Time ( from first season)
I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You
(brand new Elvis arrangement for Gianluca )
Mama (from first season)
Can you Feel the Love tonight
Memory (Ignazio’s solo)
Night and Day (Gianluca’s solo)
Maria (fro three)
Non Ti Scordar Di Me (Piero’s solo)
Surrender/Torna a Surriento
O Solo Mio/Now or Never
Long-term fans will see music from three seasons mixed together and it was great.
The new arrangement of the Elvis song: “I can’t Help Falling in Love You”. I like this song and Gianluca wrapped it in a blanket of beautiful passion. His maturity is showing more and more. His “Night and Day” was even better than last year- superb. Ignazio stopped the show with his wonderful “ Ti Voglio Tanto Bene” (they joked about how the last time he sang that song (three years ago) he was 75 pounds heavier. He did look good last night. He also was showing more maturity in singing. Piero just wiped up the whole place with his powerhouse solo “No Puede Ser” . They talked about him training to do an opera role later this year. This young man is serious. For the full ensemble pieces my favorite this time was “Il Canto” which Ignazio accidently announced as “ Il Volo” – whoops ! Then would come my main favorite: “Il Mondo” But they were all so good.
Staging and crew:
Well, the boys may have been nearly perfect in their work but the crew that backed them up was not. The stage crew at the Greek was very sloppy in the stage set-up. The general lighting was poorly timed (to the music) and the worst tech problem was the follow spot-operators. I know some of you may think this is silly but when you are in the audience and your favorite singer starts a song and he is totally in the dark for two or three phrases that is terrible. It was so bad that the boys made mention of it several times in the show. At one point all three spots were to be on each boy but Ignazio was in the dark and he was the one scheduled to talk. So he said, in his typical light-hearted fashion, that “electricity is so expensive that we cannot afford to have lights” (huge audience laugh ! ) (power to you Ignazio – the audience was very pleased he said that). There were other times that made a lot of us feel that spot operators needed to be fired.
The Il Volo sound system was tied into the Greek Theater sound system which was way overloaded to bass sounds (like a rock band) and that drown the boys’ sounds once in a while – fortunately not too often. I do get annoyed because our boys’ work very hard and they need to depend on a good partnership with tech and crew and when that does not happen it hurts the boys’ presentation and the entire show.
The tech stuff aside, there was so much that was wonderful about this concert. I don’t usually like open-air theaters but that evening the sky was clear, the moon was out and the weather was beautiful. The acoutics in the Greek work very well for an open-air place.
I was about 8 rows back and the viewing was great. The orchestra was very fine indeed.
My favorite thing (aside from the singing) was seeing how these boys have matured since I saw them last November. They are engaging the audience more and more and their between-songs banter does not feel a little rigid anymore but very natural and really funny this time. I mean really funny. In the past Gianluca would tend to stay out of the clowing around but this time he engaged just as much as the others. It warmed my heart to see this funny, loving banter and a little horse-play going on and the audience loved it and loved them. One scene: Ignazio was fooling around between songs messing the hair of the guitar player and then the pianist and then he went to mess the hair of Gianluca and WOW – you don’t mess Gianluca’s hair ! So they had a pretend hair fight. We all laughed outloud. Then they turned around and sang just perfectly.
One little cute and funny story: during the singing of the Lion King song, “Can you Feel the Love Tonight” Ignazio made a mistake with the text – the words. After the song was done he owned up to it in a funny way telling the story of how they saw the show on Broadway and he went back to his hotel room and could not sleep because the words “ Hakuna Matata” were going through his mind. That was the reason he goofed the words on the song – “Hakuna Matata”.
End result: the audience (about 4000) was totally transported into a heavenly realm of musical artistry and it was obvious from the pre-show and intermission conversation that the people came loaded for love. They already knew it was going to be great. I had several meetings during my time there: There were three different groups of fans from the Flight Crew that I ran across, both before the show and after. Some I was expecting and the others were a suprise to me. All in all 14 new friends and Flight Crew fans.
The other meeting was at 3:30pm in the afternoon when I had set up to meet backstage with Barbara, Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio as best they could fit it in. I arrived just as they were in sound check and rehearsal. It was very interesting to watch them do their rehearsal work. Barbara and the boys were very welcoming and warm but the time was cut short because they had added another radio interview to be done before concert. I did have a little more time with Piero and wished him a happy birthday. Ignazio was so sweet to mention the flowers for his grandfather’s funeral. Gianluca waved at me (on the side of the stage) but was busy with the orchestra working out Elvis. I must say that the term “Flight Crew” got mentioned by them here and there during the talk. I tell you we are becoming a large family.
Thank You Myron, This was just beautiful!