A GUEST POSTING FROM ANDREA PEVIANI
I’m very proud of the high level of social interaction generated by this little corner of the internet. The decade and a bit since TVV got off the ground has generated tens of thousands of comments and e-mails along with numerous guest contributions. It still humbles me that so many people are willing to contribute to the blog, especially when they do so in response to me asking for something specific.
Today is one of those really special occasions when I’m presented with something that goes well beyond my wildest dreams. It stems from a posting on Facebook by Andrea Peviani, the author of the Conventional Records blog, in which he expressed his joy at seeing one of his favourite bands play a live gig some 170 km from his home town of Lodi, Italy. I asked him if he wanted to offer up a review of the gig and to my delight he said ‘yes’.
What follows is one of the most enjoyable postings I’ve ever had the honour of sharing with you. I’ll open with the words in Andrea’s e-mail before going straight into his memories of the occasion.
I know one month is a long time… but here I am with my contribution about Teenage Fanclub’s only Italian date!
I hope it’s not too senseless to publish a review about this particular European concert while they’ve already been to Japan, Australia and now they’ve begun the U.S. leg of their tour…
Anyway I had a story to tell, and despite my laziness (and some other minor issues with my home wi-fi…) I’ve completed it.
I thought that some pictures might enhance the visual understanding of what I was talking about. I hope they’re not too many!
Sorry as usual about my poor English… Please edit wherever you find mistakes or words that can be replaced with better expressions.
Thank you about your patience and kindness: when you wrote that comment on Facebook I felt honoured and stimulated… It’s been hard, but now I’m glad you asked!
Best wishes for a great springtime with lots of good records and concerts.
A Teenage Fanclub concert in Italy is a precious thing. Last time they came over here was in 2005 and I think there weren’t many other occasions in the years before. For me it was the first time: I remember them since their beginnings and became a fan with Bandwagonesque. Then in the next 10 years I always listened to their records but not with the same passion, and in the early 00s I almost ignored them. It was only in these last 10 years that I completed my collection of their albums, buying all of them whenever I found them used and cheap. Maybe not all of them are masterpieces; anyway, you’re never disappointed. Always the same simple elements, but nobody can put them together with the same freshness and craftsmanship.
Bologna is one of the most rock’n’roll places in Italy (Skank Bloc Bologna anyone?), about 200 Km. south of Milan, so it’s the ideal place to gather people coming from every region of our long and narrow peninsula. But it was the unusual venue that deserves some explanation to non-Italian readers. Bologna’s Teatro Antoniano is the mythical place of the “Zecchino d’Oro”. Let me seek help from Wikipedia:
Zecchino d’Oro (Italian pronunciation: [dzekˈkiːno ˈdɔːro; tsek-]; meaning “Golden Sequin”) is an international children’s song festival that has taken place every year since 1959. It is broadcast by Rai 1. It was started by Cino Tortorella, and the first two festivals were held in Milan. In 1961, the festival was taken up by the Antoniano Institute and moved to Bologna. In 2009, Cino Tortorella left Zecchino d’Oro. In 1963, Mariele Ventre, a conductor and director of young performers, created the Piccolo Coro dell’Antoniano Children’s Choir (called Piccolo Coro “Mariele Ventre” dell’Antoniano after her death in 1995, and directed by Sabrina Simoni). From 1976 the festival took on an international perspective – each year seven Italian songs and seven foreign songs are sung by children and voted for by a children’s jury. The winning song is rewarded with the Zecchino d’Oro award.
The golden age of the Zecchino d’Oro was in the 60s and the 70s; this means that for people born in those decades there’s a canon of dozens of children songs whose verses we all can sing from start to end. Shared memories that merge with our love for the songs of Teenage Fanclub. A blurred line between pre-teenage and post-teenage music fandom.
Actually the venue was not in the same part of the building where they broadcast the TV Festival every year… the Antoniano Theater is a quite normal theater, so it was a seated situation, not quite right for an indie gig. I was in the second row. Gorgeous view, but unfortunately a poor sound, nobody could really understand why…
Before Teenage Fanclub, we were entertained by a short exhibition by one George Borowski. A heart warming revelation. He may be “just one of their roadies”, but he added some more intimate magic to the evening. A very talented guitar player, he played some fine acoustic songs and connected with the audience with some humble and funny talks about his love for music, supporting his daughter and her band Mora. George said something about the preciousness and value of the time we were investing in that particular evening, going there and listening to this music. Maybe a little too sentimental… but then this small band from Scotland get on stage, play Start Again and the heart fills with gratitude. We’re here. They’re here. Here.
Every song is kinda classic, those from the 90s AND the ones from last year’s album. Unfortunately only two songs from Bandwagonesque, but I’ve seen on Setlists.com that it’s been the same in the whole tour… The core of the concert are their recent tunes and cuts from Grand Prix and Songs from Northern Britain. The presence of Teenage Fanclub on stage is their main strength and weakness. They are far beyond understatement. Sometimes it’s awkward to look at them while they’re fiddling with guitars between songs. Then they start a new song, and everything flows effortlessly, their aged nerds image becomes impossibly cool and you’re reflecting your best self in the perfect songs of this perfect band.
Raymond McGinley was suffering from a bad cold: the amp behind him was covered with rows of paper towels and during the concert he went on exposing the used ones… We all stay seated but you can feel the climax coming: I’m In Love, Star Sign… then it’s The Concept and the whole theater rushes towards the stage. Norman Blake has a wide smile on his face and Gerard Love and Raymond also respond to the deep affection of their crowd. Singing along to that chorus and that guitar coda was something I never want to end; indeed was one of those moments I will keep forever in a corner of your soul.
The first two encores cool down a bit of the atmosphere: of course it was great that they played that Bevis Frond song, but I can’t help thinking what they could have done to me if they played What You Do To Me. We went into orbit again with Sparky’s Dream, and of course Everything Flows is the perfect ending, another of those transcendental live moments.
After the concert you can feel the sense of harmony and happiness spread all around. A true miracle then happens before my eyes…..
Marco Sanchioni (a friend and a cult Italian indie musician, since late 80s with his band A Number Two, then later as a solo artist) is handed a set list from the stage – and given how few times Teenage Fanclub play in Italy you can realise how significant it is for him to have this piece of paper; then he looks at the disappointed girl standing beside him and he decides to give the set list to her. I had to immortalize the moment (and the setlist), as an evidence of the “Spirit of Mariele” (the unforgettable director of the Piccolo Coro dell’Antoniano) floating in the air.
Marco Sanchioni and The Gift of the Holy Setlist
The day after the show, Marco was posting on Facebook using the the hashtag I had come up with – #marielesantasubito (Sanctify Mariele now); he also told a long tale of how there had been a second miracle that had blessed him. He had somehow lost his smartphone under the seats at the theatre – all his new songs for his next record were on the smartphone and he was worried; but a man from the theatre had been in contact to say it had been found it, and now Marco was heading back to Bologna to bring it home; it was as if, again, the Spirit of Mariele was protecting everything in the surroundings…
(Saint?) Mariele Ventre
That was the next day. But let us return to the events after Teenage Fanclub had ended the set.
Outside the Antoniano everybody is joyful and cheerful.. I meet my almost namesake Andrea Pavan, an absolutely amazing friend whose enthusiasm is always contagious. I join him and a few other friends with the mission of meeting Norman and the others.
The night is not too cold, the company is wonderful… but time moves on and nobody is coming out of the theater. Pavan is scrolling on his iPad literally THOUSANDS of pictures he took over the years: name ANY cult hero from the British and American indie scenes of the last 30 years, he’s got a photograph with them. He’s looking to show us a specific one he took with Norman some years before at a summer festival, while he was involved in some other parallel project.
The roadies start loading the gear on the tour bus. We give a big cheer to George Borowski (for us now The Big Borowski) and he’s even sweeter on the pavement than on stage. He says we can rest assured that Norman and the others will board on this bus… he just doesn’t know when.
He thanks us for the time we spent coming to the show and for waiting to meet the guys.
(In the following weeks we connect with George on Facebook and the young but incredibly knowledgeable Monica Mazzoli has an on-line chat with him about the first song he had played in his acoustic set. She knew it had been an obscure gem she liked from a compilation of the post-punk era, “Perfect Unpop: Peel Show Hits & Long Lost Lo-Fi Favourites Vol. 1 1976-1980”. George then revealed it was a tune he had written in 1978!)
Raymond is the first to come out, but he looks quite tired and ill,; he gives us a half sleepy smile, mutters ‘Hi’ and goes onto on the bus. Gerard is even more awkward, slipping in without a word. It’s embarrassingly late, but Norman hasn’t yet come out… but we are beyond the point of no return, nobody can quit now.
Chiara Busico and Delia Burza have sore feet, but they’ve been stalking major indie stars all over the world, so they just sit down on some doorsteps. Finally he appears, a bottle of beer in one hand and his smartphone pressed to his ear. The situation is so insane that there’s nothing strange anymore with six people staring from a small distance at a guy talking (probably) to his wife thousands of miles away in a foreign country.
When Norman comes over he’s really nice and easy. Pavan has finally found THAT picture and proudly shows it to him, and he seems to remember what Andrea is recollecting. He kindly strikes a pose for pictures with each of us and all together, then he waves goodbye (some of us will see him very soon at Barcelona’s Primavera Festival).
Francesca guide us to the only place still open in Bologna to celebrate with a beer. (Francesca Sara Cauli is one of the best rock photographers around, you can see her stunning pictures of this concert here: http://sentireascoltare.com/concerti/teenage-fanclub-bologna-teatro-antoniano-2017/).
We are six very different people, of different ages. We are serious about our musical passions, connected by similar tastes and similar experiences. We come from various parts of Italy: Bologna, Roma, Firenze, Torino, even Lodi… But tonight we are all just teenagers rejuvenated by the place where our childhood heritage lies and by these Scottish pals that you instantly feel familiar with.
Norman & Andrea Pavan show Norman & Andrea Pavan
Norman & Me
Those raw but warm pictures are memories of this simple but unforgettable night: precious visual souvenirs that I’d like to match with some solid recordings of this band at the peak of its power. I think the moment has come for a live album in their discography (maybe any other date from this tour but this one!). I have a good title: The Name of This Band is Teenage Fanclub.