Friday 14 Feb 2020
Vinicio Capossela at the Union Chapel, Islington.
‘But in the furrows of the new effort “Bestiary of love”, on the market today, the “werewolf songwriter” who emerges from the most hidden ravines of the Cúpa to dispense mottos and words of truth loosens the bridle to the minnesänger that is in him using the zoological metaphor of the last album “Ballads for men and beasts” to unite like a fourteenth-century troubadour “minne”, love, and “sang”, singing.’Vinicio Capossela: “L’amore, unico antidoto alla peste” ANDREA SPINELLI, Il Giorno Milano, 14 February 2020.
Google translating a Milanese newspaper article from 14 Feb 2020 is a mixed blessing but happily for me, music is a universal language and no one will convince me that I missed anything watching Vinicio Capossela debut his bestiary (sounds as though it should be illegal in a consecrated building) with the help of a 5 piece band, VC leading from mostly the piano. The guitarist and violinist doubled as keyboard players and the flute player spent half the gig playing something that looked like a small cello but sounded as though it may also have recently escaped from a hidden ravine in the Cúpa. I probably needn’t add that the musicians came on to the stage in animal masks, or that VC changed hats and masks frequently during the performance – now appearing as a dancing skeleton, now as a rasping crow. VC is often referred to in media shorthand as the Italian Tom Waits which is understandable, if lazy. Would Tom Waits rearrange a song from his back catalogue in the style of Henry Purcell to honour his London audience? Actually he might, but that’s not the point. What the two artists have in common (I mean apart from sometimes sharing the monster guitarist, Marc Ribot) is a sense of absolute freedom in their mature work. More than that they share a kind of geological understanding that music itself is about telling stories.
It was a gig that I’m not likely to forget until I forget all gigs, perhaps not even then: a crow will remind me, a rose perhaps. I’ll remember the faces in the pub afterwards measuring Valentine’s Day in empty glasses, the flowers out of place in the drizzle and on the train, and the suspicion that there never really was an antidote to the plague, except for a fleeting moment, through music and love.