Antonio Forcione

Few things can silence a crowd. A gunshot, perhaps, or a particularly droning sermon. And seemingly, Antonio Forcione. Perhaps Mr Forcione was relying on everyone in the audience being an avid fan, so he did not have to make an effort to win us over, but I found it more puzzling than crop circles why so many hundreds of people were so subservient. Yes, he is a Real Life Musician – something there aren't many of – but he lacks stage presence, even with the billowing clouds from his smoke machine.No one can deny that Forcione exhibits great fret work, but he makes minimal communication with us, so we end up with minimal connection accordingly. For a large portion of the hour, the guitar music blended well with the accompanying instruments, but there was nothing drawing our focus and it was somewhat bland. Not just aurally, but visually the stage was crying out for a singer that wasn't there. The act felt incomplete, a band without a frontman, with Forcione unwilling to take on the role.In between pieces the next 'tune' is introduced, and it's exactly that: a tune, not a song. Admittedly it's nice that the pieces are contextualised, such as ‘Maya’s Song’, written for Forcione's daughter, but they're all a bit long and don't necessarily match their title. The aforementioned, for example, contains hints at vaguely fun motifs but still sounds too deep and meaningful to be about childhood.There's sheer stasis, too. With the guitar being a vaguely portable instrument, one might be forgiven for thinking that its player would be freer to move about the stage somewhat, but Forcione spends most of the time on a chair, staring at his trendy Converse.At times, Forcione is simply outshone by his peers, the Senegalese Seckou Keita on the kora, and the Brazilian percussionist, Adriana Adewale. The pair between them take up a significant period of time within the show, so much so that we're left wondering how the show can be entitled simply 'Antonio Forcione', although we're not complaining. Adewale's solo on the tambourine was impressive, given that he managed to tease such a multi-layered song out of the thing. It was also nice to see such an underused, underrated instrument given centre stage for once. Keita was the star of the show, though. His talent was phenomenal and his smiling enthusiasm infectious. The slightest bob or vocalisation sent onlookers wild.The hour-long concert was one long chillout. The audience, consisting predominantly of couples, happy to have got what they'd paid for. However, the most exciting thing I heard all night was the news that the Occa Trio was going to remain: watch out for some interesting collaborations.

Reviews by Fen Greatley

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The Blurb

The Fringe's favourite guitarist launches his first new album in five years. Joined by internationally renowned Kora player, Seckou Keita, from Senegal and Brazilian percussionist, Adriano Adewale. Three musicians, true masters. Prepare to be amazed, enchanted and entertained.

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