Jimmy Gnecco - Cardiff, International Arena - 25th November 2010 Print E-mail
Written by Russ P   
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 05:00

Only two months ago I was in London to see Jimmy Gnecco performing a solo acoustic gig in an intimate basement venue no bigger than your average pub. And tonight sees him on one of the biggest stages in Cardiff - the city's international arena. Who would have thought? Back in London when I interviewed Jimmy backstage we both knew about the a-ha dates in mainland Europe but neither of us knew that Jimmy would in fact be continuing the tour on the UK leg. When I found out that he was playing Cardiff I couldn't believe my luck and didn't want to pass up the opportunity of seeing Jimmy play with a full band.

 

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The last time that Jimmy was in Wales was as a passenger in a car speedily driven by producer John Leckie. Tonight Jimmy had time to stick around and take in the surroundings as he led his band out onto Welsh soil for the first time.

 

And true to his word Jimmy starts off with an Ours track. It's the epic 'Willing' from the 'Mercy' album. This is a performance that his fans in America are no doubt used to but I can't help but to feel extremely privileged to be watching this spectacle from an artist who, to date, hasn't graced these shores too often.

 

I'm taken off-guard with the next song 'Sing For Me'. I'm not familiar with it. It's been part of his live show for quite a time but is yet to make an appearance on record. Static skanks out the rhythm on his Les Paul and the drums, as ever, thump out a deep tribal groove while Gnecco effortlessly glides over the top swooping and soaring.

 

Jimmy_Gnecco_Cardiff_057With Jimmy now wearing that familiar black acoustic guitar the band get raucous again with 'The Bells' which is getting to be a familiar track to those seeing him play live but, like 'Sing For Me', is still pending when it comes to a studio version.

 

Jimmy gets a little buzz from his guitar, tugs the lead and says: "That's not going to go away" and, wasting no time, gets back to the set. Gnecco is over here promoting his new solo album 'The Heart' and he devotes the rest of his set to it.

 

This is the third time that I've heard 'Mystery' - the album version, the solo acoustic live version and now the band version. And it amazes me each time how different it is. It's not that Jimmy changes the song in any way. It's all in the mood, delivery and nuance. It's a gentle and understated acoustic song that I think Jimmy could have pulled off all alone up on that big stage but the band, as understated as the song itself, gently lift the song adding colour and texture making it sonically amazing.

 

In contrast 'The Heart' is an intense and rhythmic song that speaks straight to the body. It's no mistake that the song is called 'The Heart' it evokes the very sound of blood pumping through veins. It's hypnotic and tribal. The second guitarist helps pound out the rhythm on a floor tom at his side. The bass-end is incredible. And it's only at this moment, one song from the end, that I realise that there is no bass player onstage. Using my ears I did not realise. Using my eyes I did. And, of course, the ears win out. The ride out to the song is like a huge energy crescendo with Jimmy seemingly trading solos with himself using two distinct voices, a whisper and a cry.

 

The band end their set with the rousing 'Bring You Home' and Jimmy can be proud with holding his own playing on the same stage as one of his vocal heros Morten Harket.