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Gabin
Tinkoff 
By Alex Meredith
Like the universe, art has infinite dimensions and there remain vast areas yet to be discovered. The forces behind this limitless expansion are the artists; the stars who through inspiration, perspiration and luck boldly go where others have not gone before, to seek out new ways to please their audience. Sadly, like every galaxy in the artistic universe, music has its black-holes. Last night down on planet Tinkoff, Gabin opened up a whopper.

It is difficult to say how many of the 300 or so victims were drawn to this musical abyss by a commitment to the band or had turned up to get an early spot for the football. Many may have just popped in by chance. Whatever the reasoning, the sizeable turn out was certainly justification for a shrewdly chosen venue. A swanky restaurant/bar with a young, attractive and suited clientele created a lethargic after-work-drinks atmosphere; the best forum for the mellow offerings that were about to be served up. Mercifully the excellent beer produced by its built-in microbrewery also helped cushion the blow of the music. It was clear that here the group could focus on the twenty-something bar-dwellers, more interested in posing than composing, and give themselves the best chance of picking up some support. Given the enthusiastic response from those listeners who resisted the temptation to doze, the band will be satisfied that some at least some went away with more than an unusual name to drop into water-cooler conversation.

Watching such a talentless ensemble would be less painful were it not for the fact that they are seemingly oblivious to their own weaknesses. Perhaps this is a result of the limited success they have had in their home country of Italy. There, the duo’s music has variously been hailed as innovative, fresh and funky. They even had a number 3 hit (the mind boggles over what was at 1 and 2). I can only assume that this acclaim is a result of the fact that their product is difficult to classify. Since their tired, pedestrian drone is certainly not jazz, some are eager to stamp the music with a wacky hyphenated label and credit them with a pioneering approach. Filippo Clary and Max Bottini are no more deserving of this sort of praise than Rolf Harris. In fact if anything they have taken vibrant, uplifting influences and samples and crushed them together into an uninspired melange that barely once set the toe tapping.

As an introducer of different musical styles the group may have a role. Some not-quite-Ricky-Martins might warm to their latino influenced ditties since they are so watered down that there is no danger of an embarrassing move to the dance floor. But if you want to get into a more punchy beat then please look elsewhere. Their “Rock and Roll” (their words not mine) number was so inexcusably lame that it might have struggled to get them on their feet at the Victory Day veterans’ tea party.

The one consolation in the musical mishap was the singer – Greta Fanitieri. Her powerful vocals did their best to stand out over the background of mediocrity as she glided between testing notes and genuine improvisation. Had she been given more airtime and fewer backing instruments then the end result would certainly be easier on the ear. As it was we were repeatedly subjected to the self-indulgent lead guitarist who awarded himself a series of error-strewn and stuttered solos that if you closed your eyes you might think you were listening to a one-armed Santana on valium. Regrettably, the keyboard work was also more chopsticks than chopin.

With the lights on, a table, a good beer and some engaging conversation this band might be a more palatable prospect. The exposure of a gig format makes what should be easy listening hard. Here at the outer limits of lounge music I had found a bleak and desolate dimension. It was with relief that I was beamed back up to normality.

19.05.05
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