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'London, Betsey Trotwood, 4th April 2017'   

-  Genre: 'Alt/Country'

Our Rating:
This was the album launch show for Don Antonio's self-titled debut solo album. In case you are unaware, said Don Antonio is the first solo album by Antonio Gramentieri who in recent years has played with (among others) Sea Of Cortez, The Slummers, Dan Stuart, Hugo Race, Tony Delone and Alejandro Escovedo.

But first on, down in the basement on the banks of the River Fleet, was Trent Miller. He was playing as a duo with Graham Knight. It was good to see Trent again and he opened with the slow love gone wrong song Time Between Us, in Trent's trademark downbeat style getting to the angst of heartbreak.

How Soon Is Never, meanwhile, was a rather starkly beautiful good riddance to someone you don't want back with Graham's backing vocals working really well with Trent's deeply sonorous vocals.

Your Black Heart continued with the theme of heartbreak and sadness over beautifully played acoustic guitars to make us happy we haven't done Trent wrong. Lupita Dream On was a real highlight for me. The guitars weaved the dream together as the harmony vocals helped to get us drifting away nicely. This is certainly one of Trent's songs which always sticks in my head.

Days In Winter was nice and sparse, like an old tree with no leaves. By this point, Trent was almost joking about this being the duo's upbeat happy song - as if he could write one of those! Pictures from A Different World was like a reflection of what might have happened if the love of your life hadn't destroyed the relationship. It allowed us all to carry on wallowing in the beauty of this exquisitely sad music.

All These Violent Years seems to sum up the times we live in well enough. They touch on all sorts of emotional stuff and just sounded really cool as the two guitars and harmonica meshed beautifully. They closed with Fear Of Flyin' which stuck in my head for 3 days after the gig. Indeed, it really wormed it's way back into my head as it normally does when I hear it. This was a cool set and the Skeleton duo worked really well. I look forward to hearing Trent's new album when it's ready.

Then on came Don Antonio who were playing this album launch show on the band's night off from being Alejandro Escovedo's backing band on his current European tour. Like Trent, they are of course Italian and play soundtrack music to films that don't yet exist.

They opened with a cool jazz instrumental which showed immense restraint from Don Antonio's Companeros; especially the drummer who seemed to be barely playing his drums and yet the sound they conjured up was totally widescreen. Wow.

They then did one like a spaghetti Western interlude as if a gun fight was about to happen and the various parties were preparing to live or die. Don Antonio enjoys witty monologues to introduce us to the band and the music and gave us a little tale to introduce Lontana as the band showed just how versatile they could be with instruments changing. If I remember rightly, there was some cool brass on this tune that Don Antonio was trying his hardest not to channel Ligabue on.

We then got to a section that was like a highlights reel for Roberto Benigni's Italian movies with some mesmeric flourishes from Don Antonio's guitar and some interesting bass rhythms as Johnny Toothpick stalks us. Not certain which of the Sea Of Cortez tunes they re-worked but it sounded magical and less difficult than the album I have of theirs which is a musical novel.

Don Antonio stressed that Sunset, Adriatico has no Zucchero influence, before they took us more into the realms of a Fellini soundtrack as we should have been sipping cocktails rather than pints of beer. Amorcantando sounded like it was in black & white and we should all be trying to seduce Sophia Loren while it plays out.

It was then dance craze time with Baballo. The band all chanted and, damn, it was funky and slick and could be re-worked into being a modern La Bamba meets the Twist. In fact, they they wanted us all to twist to it. They then brought on tonight's special guest, Alejandro Escovedo, to sing 1000 Kisses. Wow, he sounded good enough to make me regret being one of the only people there who didn't have tickets to see him the next night in Shepherds Bush.

They closed with another instrumental piece and of course got called back for an encore. That began with a reprise of Baballo as we all needed to do the acoustic twist this time. Among many jokes told during the band intros, they finished with a cool Memphis cover song. The album is well worth tracking down and Don Antonio are well worth seeing if and when they play together again.
  author: simonovitch

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