He unbuttoned the jacket of his stylish grey suit before bowing to a jubilant crowd.
Patrizio Buanne, “ambassador of Italian song and la dolce vita”, was facing a full house at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, on Thursday, November 1.
This was the last of five Australian concerts on his Italianissimo 2018 Tour.
Not a newcomer to our shores, the “Austrian-born Neapolitan” has performed Down Under several times over the past 12 years and has garnered a very loyal following, especially among the Italian- and Spanish-speaking communities.
Patrizio’s style is unique.
He fills a void in the music scene.
To label him a crooner is reductive.
Certainly, his warm, baritone register is ideally suited to a romantic repertoire but his discography ranges from tarantellas to modern pop, via rock and roll.
Some may find it surprising, but Patrizio is actually incredibly adept at “rocking” on stage, and does a “mean” impersonation of Elvis Presley.
His own composition, Shake the Spaghetti, in true Elvis style, is boppy and toe-tappingly fun.
Patrizio’s concerts always provide great variety, and this one was no exception.
From folk songs in Calabrian, Sicilian and Neapolitan vernacular, such as Luna mezz’o mare, whose allusive lyrics he’s not particularly fond of, and ’O sole mio, which an audience member requested – “Remember though, I choose the songs,” Patrizio interjected – to classics like Io che non vivo (You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me), Parla più piano (Speak Softly Love) from the film The Godfather, Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, the jaunty Solo Tu, My Baby, the famous Ti Amo, and a medley of his original hits, including This Kiss Tonight” and the hauntingly beautiful Forever Begins Tonight, Patrizio’s voice masterfully spans the gamut.
A constant in Patrizio’s concerts is the “couch scene”.
A (lucky!) young lady is picked from the house and Patrizio invites her to sit next to him on the prop while he serenades her.
Another staple is Patrizio’s first big worldwide hit, Il mondo, plus, naturally, his latest release: on this occasion, the very poignant Only Your Love Takes Me Home, the title track from the Italianissimo album.
The lyrics of this song resonate particularly with Patrizio as they convey the homesickness experienced by the artist when he is touring.
The object of his longing is open to interpretation: it might be someone dear to him, his homeland or wherever his heart lies.
The Italians in Australia make the international star feel at home but at the same time accentuate his yearning to be home.
On the other hand, the public was treated to a few surprises: Patrizio imitated Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, he performed at the piano, walked around the auditorium singing, encouraged audience participation and randomly gifted good luck charms.
The seamless backing of the five-piece band – led by musical director Robert Severini on bass guitar, and consisting of piano/keyboards, lead/rhythm guitar, drums and saxophone – filled a mini interval that allowed Patrizio enough time to change into an impeccably tailored suit the same shade of blue as his eyes.
On the odd occasion, it seemed that Patrizio was sending out mixed messages about the audience’s reaction to certain prompts: sometimes too vocal, at other times unenthusiastic, or with unwarranted clapping: “Don’t applaud everything I say: I’m not in politics!” he protested playfully. A lady’s voice was overhead: “Well, you should be!”
Patrizio loves singing but he also enjoys talking.
He has an innate sense of humour and a natural talent for imitating accents.
Much to everyone’s amusement, every so often, he slipped in some Strine.
Suddenly, the couch was once again in the spotlight.
This time it offered Patrizio an intimate platform from which to make a few announcements.
Having just celebrated a milestone birthday, he revealed that he was now ready to devote some time to his personal life.
He has “met someone” and wedding bells are on the horizon.
He’ll also be taking time out “to make little Patrizios”.
“I’ve been training… ,” he joked.
Although he may not be touring again for a while, Patrizio will be working on a Christmas album to be released in 2019.
Patrizio appeared to be particularly emotional.
It would be easy to read more into this than necessary.
Fortunately, the atmosphere soon lightened up when he reappeared on stage in his Napoli jersey for the much-anticipated encore.
A signing and photo session ensued in the lobby of Hamer Hall, offering diehard fans the chance to bid farewell and best of luck to their much-loved idol.