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Il Balletto Di Bronzo: Live in Rome (DVD)

Many progressive music lovers regard Il Balletto Di Bronzo's 1972 album Ys as one of the watermarks of classic 70's Italian Symphonic prog. While their first recording Sirio 2222 (1970) leaned more towards the harder rocking, psychedelic sounds that were typical of the late 60's, with Ys the bands lineup and subsequent musical direction underwent a significent overhaul. This change was largely due to the addition of classically trained keyboard player Gianni Leone who took the reins of the band immediately by composing the four part concept album entirely on his own. The combination of the warm, cascading sounds of Leone's mellotron with the propulsive guitar and drum tandem of Lino Ajello and Gianchi Stringa would forever seal their place among the progressive elite. Unfortunately the band would only issue one final single before going their separate ways the following year. Il Balletto Di Bronzo remained silent until the late 90's when Leone reformed the group as a trio for select live appearances which has since seen them perform at such notable events as NEARfest and Baja Prog in recent years. Until the release of this DVD which was recorded in a club in Rome in 2007, very little live footage of the band has ever been captured for prosperity and in fact Live in Rome marks the first official live recording to be issued.

The concert which is performed in front of a somewhat respectful and subdued audience is exquisitely filmed, with the onus placed directly on the performance itself. Save for the odd slow motion frame sequence, thankfully there isn't a lot of flashy tricks or visual gimmicks to deter from the music. Handheld cameras onstage allow for some interesting angles in which to view Leone's fingers as he performs his lightning speed runs on the keyboard. Accompanied by bassist Marco Capozi and drummer Adolfo Ramundo, Leone stands stoically behind his modest (by today's standards) rack of equipment which consists of only two or three keyboards, and appear to be littered with song notes and possibly lyrics as well. There is also a music stand nearby with similar notes affixed to it, further confirming Leone's role of a true musical conductor.

Any preconceived notion that this concert might act as solely to provide moments of nostalgia are quickly dismissed early on as three of the first four songs performed are new, previously unreleased compositions which reveal more about Leone's multifaceted forays into the various types of musical ideas that he has explored outside of Balletto. While these tracks are fairly decent and come with their fair share of Leone's dramatic, theatrical vocals, things don't really begin to start heating up musically until the much anticipated run through of the suite of Ys material, in which the band as a whole turns in an absolutely sizzling, albeit slightly abridged version of the album. Leone's playing here is frenetic and at times the sheer driving force of the music sounds like a heavier version of ELP at their peak. Throughout the course of this concert the full, majestic symphonic sound of Il Balletto Di Bronzo is captured perfectly. Even those listeners who are somewhat new to the band will be able to revel in these distinctly theatrical and classically themed compositions. After Ys concludes the screen goes black temporarily for a brief moment until Leone returns by himself in a change of dress, with a ringing telephone, which he carries over and places on his keyboard as he begins "Né Ieri, Né Domani". Throughout the course of the song the phone rings continuously until the end of the song, at which point he ponders for a moment as to whether or not to actually answer it, before picking it up and hurling it across the stage. Theatrical indeed.

Leone's flair for theatrics is on full display in the 'extras' section of the DVD as well which find him in full 'Leo Nero' mode, which is the alter ego of his solo work. Recorded at the same concert, he performs a few of his own tracks as well as a 'Homage to Balletto' replete with a video screen backdrop of images from various stages of the bands career up to present day. His avant-garde leanings become more evident on the final number "Il Nuvo Mondo" when he dons the tribal looking mask which adorns the front cover of the DVD, while unfurling a large paper scroll featuring a collage of newspaper clippings and paint splashes. A bit of a bizarre way to bring things to an end but like I've said, the music and presentation of Il Balletto Di Bronzo presents a truly theatrical experience in more ways than one.

So there you have it, the first ever live DVD of one of Italy's greatest musical exports, whose cult reputation over the ensuing years inevitably lifted them to an almost iconographic status. As the liner notes aptly state this music should be received as a precious gift and I couldn't agree more.

Note: The DVD released by Black Widow Records is in PAL format so you might need a multi- region DVD player to be able to play it.

Track Listing
1) Deliquio Viola
2) Tastiere Isteriche
3) Napoli Sotterranea
4) Certezze Fragili
5) Donna Vittoria
6) YS- Introduzione
7) YS- Primo Incontro
8) YS- Secondo Incontro
9) YS- Terzo Incontro ed Epilogo
10) Né Ieri, Né Domani
11) L'Emofago
12) Il Castello

Added: July 20th 2008
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks
Related Link: Black Widow Records
Hits: 4684
Language: english

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