Peter Hammill - Roma, Enzimi Open Air Festival

Let's call a spade a spade: we were all a bit worried about yesterday's show. The program of the evening was quite strange to say the least: two Italian rock/reggae/dub/ska/rap bands and Peter Hammill, nicely put right between them. No bill, a teen audience, a huge stage. Immediately the 1980 Hammill/Tosh dreadful Italian tour came to mind.

Yes, we were quite worried about the crowd reaction. Anyway, things started to get interesting when a real grand piano was pushed center stage after the first band had played their set. A few moments later, here he comes the Man, all dressed in white as usual. No one introduces him, so he has to introduce himself to the surprised audience. In his gently Italian, he says: "Hi boys and girls, my name is Peter Hammill". And the concert begins. "My Room" is the opener, and we understand at once that we are about to witness something really special tonight.

His piano playing is tense and furious, but clear, much clearer than any other PH show I've seen to date. His voice spreads through the 10.000 watt PA and sinks deep into our bones. The vocal performance is just amazing. We are treated with a tight, heartfelt energic show. The audience is surprised and confused. People start to wonder who the hell is that man on stage. But the reaction is overall surprisingly good. The set is a short piano one, with no big surprises. After "My Room" we have "Siren", "Bubble" (stunning version I have to say), "A Better Time", "Faculty X", a touching "Vision" and "Still Life". Peter's performance is so good, it's the best Hammill show I've seen since 1988. He wins the audience, or at least some of it.

After the show we have a chance to chat a bit. Peter is quite satisfied and happy with the evening. "I needed that" he says. "So you were aware of the potentially dangerous situation" we ask. "Yes, I was well aware of it. I wanted to do it. You have to address to new people from time to time. You can't always count on your fan base. You can't always play it safe. I reached the point when I needed a more challenging situation". So we leave the area, while it starts raining. Sure, there's no better time to be alive than now.