Review- Andrea Valeri Chapel Sessions 19.5.18

Italian Guitarist, composer, Andrea Valeri strikes the right chord in Netley

On a day of Royal proportions ‘The Prince of acoustic guitar’ Andrea Valeri on his third visit to Netley, proved he was worthy of the accolade as the sound of exquisite guitar filled Chapel Sessions music series at St Edward’s Church, Netley. Part of a week long UK tour of England and Wales, Chapel Sessions was indeed fortunate to secure this talented musician in between tours of Europe, Russia, Canada and Australia.

An attentive, appreciative audience of all ages, in beautiful surroundings illuminated by gently changing atmospheric lighting was the perfect setting for some of the most ethereal guitar music played and heard in the world today.

The much heralded UK return of Italian Andrea Valeri, 27, world renowned guitarist, composer and arranger from Pontedera, Tuscany arrived accompanied by quotes such as

“A Guitar Genius, one of the best Guitar players in the world” John Doan

If Tuscan smiles were translated into music notes, a whole symphony of beautiful music was to grace the Chapel Sessions stage.

With Valeri’s audiences across the world regularly attracting 2,000 plus, this was surely a treat to reach all the senses in the intimate setting of St Edwards.

First up, highly regarded young guitarist from Oxfordshire, Rory Evans with a fast and furious, well crafted set, sure to raise the tempo and the temperature. The ‘antipasto’ of the evening went down a storm with the audience of all ages including Hampshire Guitar students that cannot fail to have been inspired.

Anti Pasto savoured, it was the turn of the ‘Primo and Principale’ the first and main course all rolled into one and hot it definitely was.

Accustomed to playing to crowds of 2,000 plus in some of the most beautiful cities in the world, Valeri demonstrated the warmth of his Tuscan heritage infused through tunes from every continent. The Tango of South America – Tango and Vai; – the pulsing heartbeat of Africa, Afrisong, – the mysteries of St Petersburg, Russia, ‘White Nights in St Petersburg’ and an emotional song ‘La Lettera’ that made the hairs stand up on the back of the neck with a story of a young soldier who is shot and killed on the battlefield before he has chance to read the letter his mother has sent him. The gunshot percussion on Valeri’s signature Maton guitar, ricocheted through the building and caught the breath of the audience before an overwhelming applause. A poignant rendition of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ had all the audience singing along in heartfelt harmony.

A single set of almost two hours featuring tunes from Valeri’s aptly named 2014 album ‘Race Around the World’ plus some Rock’n’Roll in the form of Dire Straits ‘Sultans of Swing’ which saw Valeri down on his knees whilst playing apparently bearing the pain of two cracked ribs. Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Boots are made for walking’ went down well with plenty of audience participation.

Valeri treated all the senses to a taste of his Tuscan homeland with tracks from his current album ‘Mediterraneo’, including ‘The Heart beats in the sea’ reflecting on the red sunset of a Mediterranean Sea full of history and emotion plus ‘Young Gun’ written for Valeri by Australian guitar master Michael Fix (who will be coincidentally playing Chapel Sessions on 6th November) all came together to paint a picture, leaving a lasting impression an Italian masterpiece. The encore featured Evans and Valeri playing for the first time in concert, the evocative title track – Mediterraneo to whoops of joy from audience members. A film theme if ever there was one.

Without question this was the perfect concert on such a Royal day, a well received Chapel Sessions, not for profit concert, at St Edward’s Church Netley.

The return of Andrea Valeri will be much awaited.

Sonja Davison