Thursday, April 24
Review/Photos: Marco Benevento - SubCulture - New York, New York - Fri, April 18, 2014
Marco Benevento has been delighting fans for years with his uncanny ability to make a piano sing in ways many can’t. From leading his own band, to sharing the stage with some of the best in the business Marco continues to make his rounds and delight fans each stop along the way. I have been fortunate enough to see him play in almost every setting possible, from large festival stages to epic late night camp fire sing along sets with friends, leading to last nights solo performance at the newly opened Subculture in NY.
In a city full of large crowded venues SubCulture is a rare gem offering up a chance to experience a show in a setting that is as intimate as I have ever seen. Celebrating their 7th month in operation this is my first chance to see a show here and from the moment I enter it’s clear this will be a great place to do so. The general lighting is low, inducing a relaxed and welcoming vibe as you enter this 120 seat venue. The stage lighting is powerful and well placed and the sound is clean and precise as well as extremely powerful for such an intimate room. A full sized bar adds the final piece to this puzzle serving up uniquely satisfying drinks as well as some of the finest local brews.
Settling in behind the grand piano, which is located in the center of the stage, Marco greets the crowd as some light banter ensues beginning the second of the evenings two performances. Jumping right in, the set begins with an upbeat version of “The Real Morning Party” one of his oldest tunes. This was one of my highlights for the evening, getting the room energized from the start. Now involving the crowd, he asks for some vocal assistance from a friend referred to as “Bronco” and receives a room full of support to finish out this tune. Following the song Marco talks about how it was one of his first and that if anyone was trying to quit a stimulant namely coffee (laughing) that this song should be what starts off their day. The banter continued as he introduced a new song, “Witches of Ulster,” which was written about the area he now lives in, Ulster County. I really enjoyed this one, with the added drum beat in the background as well as Marco’s passionate vocals this is a promising tune and one I hope to hear much more of in the future. Other notable moments included a fantastic cover of Elton John’s “Benny and The Jets” that was as powerful as it was moving. Offering up a memorable moment when Marco stopped playing and turned his mic out for the crowd to sing alone as he sat smiling conducting them through the chorus. Also delivering an unexpected cover of Beck’s “Sing It Again” which he said was a fan request from none other than “Bronco” whose name alone seemed to play its own role in this performance. This cover was well played and just another example of how he can take anything and make it his own,creating a memorable evening with just himself and a piano.
The crowd appeared mesmerized throughout the evening, hanging on every note being created only mere feet in front of them. Leaving the room so quiet at times that you could hear the click of a camera off to the side capturing this very intimate performance. The low and welcoming lighting combined with very limited seating offered at Subculture invites you to get up close and personal with the artist. Creating a one of a kind feel as if you're being treated to a private performance which is exactly what this evening felt like. With crowd participation and moments of pure musical bliss Marco has been creating memorable moments like this for years. Whether it’s with his band or making a guest appearance with one of your favorite acts from around the country this is a performer that is not to be missed, as well as one that I continue to look forward to seeing every chance I get.
Words: Chason Heins
Photos: Mike Geller©Grateful Music LLC
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