On February 2nd, piano virtuoso Marco Benevento brought his unique sound to a packed crowd at the Brooklyn Bowl in conjunction with the upcoming release of his new live album, Woodstock Sessions. This was the fourth night of his tour that is spanning coast to coast. As I began my first Benevento show I was curious to see how his complex music translated from studio to stage.
Benevento and his band opened the show with the “Story of Fred Short” suite from his last album that immediately got the eclectic crowd moving and engaged with the band in a unified way. As I found myself sucked into the groove I noticed that most in the crowd were in the same place as I was.
I personally find it hard to describe Benevento’s music. It is a style of its own. It is full of funk, full of groove, and full of fun. As I watched the band they were all smiles the entire night. Even as a bass drum broke they were not the least bit deterred and did not lose pace. They radiated an energy that brought joy to all in the audience, and you couldn’t help but move. It felt vaudevillian in nature, especially when you took in Benevento’s attire that contained a black top hat, pink sunglasses, and white striped blazer.
Musically the three piece makes your jaw drop. Benevento can play his keys in a funky way that make you think you are in the presence of Stevie Wonder and then transition to make your feel like you are in a Pentecostal church, especially with his call and response. At one point he even directed the crowd to call out at will for bass solos and drum solos. Bassist Karina Rykman was is in your face and all over the stage the entire night, and when she took her bass solo it was reminiscent of Lemmy Kilmister.
Then there is Benevento the showman. Not to be one confined by his instrument he at one point grabbed the microphone and found his place in the crowd dancing and singing with the audience. His showmanship didn’t let up, but was amped up as he went from playing his piano to standing on top of it. He was fully aware of the crowd the entire night even hearing a fan call out a song from behind him to which he agreed that was a good one to play next.
The night got even better when master of the Fender Telecaster, Scott Metzger joined the three-piece to close out the night. For me this was one of the highlights of the show as Metzger’s virtuosity took the music to new heights. With the addition of the guitar the music was able to expand out in more expressive ways.
As the band concluded their show and exited the stage I wanted more. In fact, I got the sense that others in the crowd were hungry for more of this weird avant garde psychedelic rock pop funk. Whatever words you can conjure up to describe this, the crowd and myself were glad Marco Benevento was here.