Verdena live at Rocca Malatestiana, Cesena – 8th September 2016

verdena1If I had been hipper to the local music scene when I arrived in Italy over 20 years ago I would have been able to follow Verdena from their inception as Nirvana wannabes to the distinctive individuals I witnessed at this stunning open air concert.

My belated appreciation of this excellent band from Bergamo is a good motive for shaking the complacent attitude that goes with smug slogan T-shirt slogans like : ‘I may be old but I got to see all the cool bands’.

I have my daughter to thank for ‘discovering’ this cool band existing right now playing songs from current releases not running through a familiar back catalogue from way back when.

verdenaThe band consists of talented siblings Alberto & Luca Ferrari (guitar/piano/vocals + percussion respectively) and Roberta Sammarelli on bass. (Live they also have a fourth member – ‘Joseph’).

They come on stage to the sound of The Who’s ‘The Real Me’ from Quadrophenia, an interesting choice as it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Verdena could come up with a rock opera of their own, albeit one with an non linear storyline and a convoluted plot!

Their latest release Endkandenz comes in two one hour long volumes and is an ambitious and diverse work that seals their status as the most original and exciting Italian band around at the moment. The grunge roots remain but are infused with many other influences.

While it’s plain they are perfectly capable of writing mainstream-friendly tunes (e.g. Un Po’ Esageri) or crowd pleasing riffs (e.g. Ho Una Fissa) they neither play to the gallery nor get immersed in self indulgent experimentation. They have the confidence / bloody mindedness to conclude a long slow piece with the self explanatory title, Funeralus.

In concert, brief flurries of slam dancing break out in the crowd but their music has too many unpredictable time signatures for such a response to be maintained with ease. Also their tunes do not have sing along choruses – they are apparently often written using the cut up technique or with oblique meaning. Alberto once said “My lyrics have no sense and at the same time have more than one”.

You should therefore forget any language barriers and discover this ‘new’ old band while they are still happening. Here’s the video to Un Po’ Esageri to get you started: