The Elegance Lounge at Assembly George Square really isn’t the best venue for Antonio Forcione, described as ‘the Fringe’s favourite guitarist’. The pillars holding up the tent mask the stage whilst the sound of punters permeates through from outside and this music act is one to see as well as to hear. That said, once the music begins, we are transported to another realm that blocks out all other noise.
Forcione’s music incorporates elements of jazz, blues, and Spanish and South American guitar styles for a sound that epitomises World Music. This year’s performance coincides with his newly-released album ‘Sketches of Africa’, bringing African rhythms and melodies into his playing.
The live performance, however, is a different experience to the album. Forcione plays with unrivalled skill, incorporating finger-picking, tapping, percussive effects and other specialist techniques that are aurally and visually spectacular. You’ll be amazed you’re listening to just one guitarist.
He is also accompanied on-stage by Italian percussionist Dado Pasqualini and ‘the maestro’ Seckou Keita from Senegal who plays the Kora, an African instrument that is a cross between a harp and a banjo with a bright, shimmering timbre. Together, they create an air of casual intimacy in a jam session filled with improvisation that had the audience cheering and applauding after each song.
The music contains lush harmonies, complex rhythms (some audience members even got up to dance!) and emotive melodies characterised by slides, scalic runs and flourishing licks. The three performers blended in rich textures, whilst smiling and encouraging each other throughout. Particular highlights were the emotive ‘Stay Forever’, ‘Madiba’s Jive’ (in honour of Nelson Mandela), the evocative ‘African Dawn’ and ‘Touch Wood’, a solo number that really allowed Forcione to exhibit his talents.
Most impressive of all, the passion of the three performers is infectious. This technical marvel is matched by stunning music and Forcione proves himself to be a world-class guitarist. Sublime.