If one more person across the Pond today knows Elisa, she definitely owes that to me. I had already tried to export her music within the non-Italian colleagues in London and for my last visit in Boston I made a compilation of her songs, a personal selection of mine, as a present to bring here. I don’t know whether her music will make the magic happen and will hit the target. I trust though that my feelings and emotions will be carried across through her songs.
As I have been asked to do, I’m translating the article below, which I wrote about a year ago after her concert in Florence.
“Every moment I treasure, I can see and trust and everyone leaves a tear and a scar and a star”
Elisa, Pearl Days
Exactly a week ago, Saturday December 1st 2012, right now I was driving with my sister on the highway A1 towards Florence to join the yearly concert that Elisa gives for the only members of her Fun Club. Besides a couple of her concerts that I had attended in Rome years before during two of her tours across Italy, I had never gone to anything similar before and I didn’t know what to expect, if never-ending lines before getting in, or racing with hundreds of other fans to grab the best seat or if a small and cosy exhibition, like the concert of Daniele Silvestri I had gone to in London few months before. I had seen some videos on YouTube taken during her previous Fun Club concerts and they showed exactly what I was hoping for: the artist on a small stage, few instruments and an acoustic version of her best songs.
After a short wait outside the venue, the Viper Club in Florence, and the performance of five young and very talented singers selected among her fans, Elisa takes the stage in silence and almost unnoticed in the clatter of the room; a wool hat and simple, dark clothes is all she wearing. It feels like being at hers and she’s coming back in the dining room after making coffee. “What was I saying? Oh yes, the lasagna sauce. I gotta tell you: I prefer doing it this way, although my mums doesn’t agree. I hope she’s not listening!”
The stage set-up helped a lot to creat the home atmosphere: a couple of classic and acoustic guitars, a bass, keyboards, a chair in the middle, cushions here and there and the shadows cast by the candles all around.
The applauses fade away, Elisa starts talking to us and I, my journal in hand, write down my first impressions and emotions. I’d like to point out that the following videos have been found on YouTube and filmed by other goers to the same concert (you’ll see the iPhone quality). If for any reasons the video’s owner wants it to be removed, please get in contact.
From my journal of that night. A fan gathering is something extremely intimate that, to me, only few selected can understand and fully enjoy, even though the concert was open to whoever wanted to join the fun club. Even the same very playlist was intended for who had been following Elisa for years and listens to all her songs, not only to the radio hits. Many of the songs had been chosen from her first albums, Pipes & Flowers of 1997 and Asile’s World of 2002 and which she said she usually doesn’t sing, like Mr Want, Cure Me and A Little Over Zero. In the video below, when she turns to the sound technician to tell him something, it’s clear how the whole thing was almost improvised, as though during a dinner with some friends she was asked to sing something.
Fan or admirer. I must admit: before the concert I had always called myself a big fan of Elisa. After last Saturday though I downgraded myself to simple admirer. Despite I have all her CD’s, even the ones released only for the US market and the ones containing different versions of songs that I already had, she played a couple that I really didn’t know or remember at all! For few others, I didn’t know the lyrics so to sing along with her and the rest of the audience. A t-shirt worn by a bunch of people in the first line said “Elisa is a faith” (the picture showed an image of the Holy Mary with the face of the singer). That’s true, perhaps Elisa really is a faith, which makes me a non-practising believer, as suggested by the two songs I asked to be included in the playlist. When signing up for the concert, each participant could choose two songs to be selected and sung during the show. My choice was Pearl Days and The Waves.
Even though Pearl Days is also the title of her sixth album, it has never been one of the most known or played on the radio, but it still remains my favourite, a soundtrack of a period of my life, 2004-2005, when one day I woke up and realised I had grown up. Thanks for choosing my song and giving an unforgettable version of this piece.
The Waves is for sure much more known and a classic radio-hit but it’s also a song that Elisa used to show us all what she can do with her voice. The versions of The Waves that I prefer is the one she gave in Rome during the Lotus Pearl Days tour and the one she sang at the Fabio Volo’s Lo Schiaccianoci. After witnessing last Saturday a live version of Dancing from such a short distance that I could almost being hit by her spits, I’m sure that had she sung The Waves as well, it would have become my favourite version.
What disappointed me? I cannot make comparisons with previous similar concerts, so nothing really disappointed me perhaps. I can say though what I was expecting and didn’t see, based on the videos I saw of other concerts. I was expecting few covers of other famous songs, like she did already in 2007 with Ode To My Family, You Oughta Know or What’s Up.
As a further confirmation that such an event is not for whoever expects a mass-concert is her choice of not singing hits such as Una Poesia Anche Per Te or Luce. Compared to many others I’m just a profane unbeliever and I went there expecting to sing that “Darei tutto e darei tanto, quanto il tempo in cui il tuo segno rimarrà” (“I’d give everything and I’d give so much, as much as the time that your sign is going to stay”, from Una Poesia Anche Per Te), instead I reminded myself why I know Elisa.
I know Elisa because when she came out with her first single, Labyrinth, her Alanis-kind of vocals and high pitches got me curious and then in love short after, just like the very same Alanis had done with Jagged Little Pills.
I know Elisa because since then, 1996, I have seen her growing up and experimenting like few can do in Italy. Elisa takes the stage and can entertain an audience by herself with no band, switching from playing the guitar to the bass, from the piano to the djembe and then onto the traverse flute and finishing with the drum and the xylophone. I just saw her doing that last Saturday.
I know Elisa because I saw her starting a song which then became a jam session through which she proposed a rap and reggae version of her pieces, even with a Jamaican accent!
Yes, I still love her even if she included over and over again the same songs in different versions in too many of her albums, which I have always bought anyway!
I like Elisa because my music tastes are various. Too much somebody might say. I love the music that can give me emotions and memories because that’s what music is made of as well, so I don’t say NO to a song just because of the singer’s name. Yes, my iPod can play De Andrè and Tiziano Ferro, the Muse and Negramaro, Ligabue and Adele, Smashing Pumpkins and Modena City Ramblers, Nirvana and Radici Nel Cemento, Guns ‘n’ Roses, The Cramberries and Pearl Jam. And many more, all getting along quite well in the same playlist. I’m not a music expert nor am I curious enough to go out there to look for new bands and genres. Nonetheless, I am for the music that is made of space and time and shivers down the spine and butterflies in the stomach and unexpected tears in the eyes, of memories that make you stop and stare at something beyond the wall, of shots of energy that boost your bike ride and kicks of life that make you feel like yelling at the sky. Everything like a soundtrack that we cannot choose: songs just randomly fit in but never by chance, and Elisa is part of it, giving life to some of the most significative memories I preserve in my heart, in such a way that sometimes listening to her is like watching one of those movies on VCR that we used to play over and over again as a kid and that even now we can do nothing else but watch again.
Beyond what I wrote, I thank you Elisa for two things you gave me: one more weekend with my family and a short road-trip to Florence with my sister!