De Gregori and Zalone, the opposites who meet on stage

De Gregori and Zalone, the opposites who meet on stage

The first excellent news is for “De Gregori's Taliban”, those who resented the pairing with Zalone, but it also makes happy those who love to see and see De Gregori again in every form, the less usual the better: from 29 October to November 23rd will start with “Nevergreen – Perfette sscienzate”, 20 concerts at the Out Off Theater in Milan, intimate live performances for 200 spectators at a time, with a lineup of hidden pearls, different every evening, and surprise guests, as was the case in 2019 for the residency at the Garbatella Theater in Rome (pre-sales available from today at 6pm).

De Gregori “did not care” about the judgments of the purists last night at the Baths of Caracalla. He had fun and that's no small feat. Only fools don't laugh, according to Chopin. And so there they were, Checco and Francesco in concert. The scene has something surreal about it, it puts you in a good mood: one who understands and takes care of words, the other who cripples and tears them; the elegant and the tamarro (“cozzalone” in Bari means this); the Prince and the fool. For brevity called antipodes. But since nothing can fall upwards and rise downwards, opposites meet at the center and seek balance. Zalone on the piano introduces the theme of “Once upon a time in America”, turning to “Piano bar” and welcoming its creator. The effect is alienating, the two know it. Zalone explains it like this: «Like La Russa making out with Schlein. It won't be beautiful but it will be exceptional.”

They promised that they would interact live, leaving room for jokes. On the album together, “Pastiche”, they had given themselves more seriousness. The fun was in the idea of ​​intertwining, but the execution was no joke. “Sexual men”, in fact, had not been included. On stage it's another thing. They sing it together «It has recently been the Vatican's anthem» announces Checco. He made De Gregori promise two things: 1) if people sing with them, he won't get irritated, 2) for the first time he will explain his songs. He, who doesn't like to talk at concerts, much less reveal the background of the songs, does so on “Piano bar”, dedicated to a sad hotel pianist and not to Venditti (“Antonello is here but he has highlighted his hair color so as not to be recognised” echoes Zalone) and “Story of Pinocchio”. «Nino Manfredi recorded it before my eyes in the early 70s» recalls De Gregori, but he doesn't mention the fact that he himself wrote the lyrics, just twenty-one years old, without appearing in the credits.

Together they take up “Il cuoco di Salò”, which starts with some notes of “Bella ciao”, they move from the poetry of “Rimmel” to the Spanish-like andropause of “Alejandro”, from “Titanic” (but instead of the giant moon there is the iceberg) to “The football draft of the class of '68”. A bit of solemnity is lost, a bit of lightness is gained. The couple separates for a few songs on which the joy would border on blasphemy. De Gregori descends into “Sento il whistle del vapore” (our thoughts go to Giovanna Marini, who recently passed away), accompanied by the voice of the chorister Francesca La Colla, then “Il giorno del violinista”, the beautiful “I matti”, “ Two gypsies”, “Numeri da download”, and “Giusto o misto”, or his version of “My Way”, which increases in intensity live.

Zalone's set alone turns the atmosphere around: he goes on the guitar and does “Samba del culu piattu” («Inside this song there is blackfacing, bodyshaming and cat calling. I thought I was the most incorrect in Italy, then he thought the Pope”); “Little rich”, the autotune rap-parody of the young Ragadi; the unpublished “The Last Day of Patriarchy”, imagined in a small village in Calabria, where “gender equality” is rather that between the husbands of the eldest and youngest daughter. Then he starts with the Celentanesque “Immigrato”: «I proposed it to Vannacci but he refused. He chose “Generale” by De Gregori, paying more for it. I would have given mine to him for free.” The audience laughs, but more than a few refuse to join the chorus. The feeling is that if on the right they have difficulty pronouncing the word “anti-fascist”, on the left they have difficulty singing Zalone's heavier irreverence. It is on “Angela”, more romantic, that they abandon themselves without hesitation.

De Gregori (who “Generale”, looted in the electoral campaigns, leaves it out) returns to “La Prima Repubblica”, galloping on country music. The two pay homage to Paolo Conte in “Pittori della Domenica” and truly align themselves, with respect, when Checco supports Francesco's voice on the piano on “Atlantide”, “Pezzi di Vetro”, “Buonanotte fiorellino”, the splendid “Sempre e forever”. Of course, from there to “Bucchinhu Rigatu” the transition is tough, it requires great emotional elasticity from the audience, who on some sacred songs of the Degregorian calendar would prefer to sink and have time to be moved, instead of being catapulted into the painful fellatio procured by a ultra-toothed Brazilian.

On the encore, another unreleased song by Checco, dedicated to Franco Battiato, who had also arranged one of the opening songs, “Il cuoco di Salò”. The Master is imagined struggling with Pornhub, between ecumenical gang bangs and golden rain in the Sahara: “And I'll come looking for you among the MILFs of Burma”. Checco leaves the final to De Gregori, who flies without wings and without a net with his “Cannon Woman”.

They double on June 9th, and promise not to go any further to make these two dates special. Almost two hours of concert in various combinations, alone, together, with and without a band, between the musically correct and the politically incorrect. It's a constant game of roles: the comedian who acts serious and the serious man who lends himself to sideshows. But this is a simplification. Because zalonate often have bitterness as a basic ingredient. When the conquests of a civilization are called into question, Checco then takes them like this: retrospectively. If they bother us, if they don't leave us indifferent, then perhaps we can still save ourselves.

And on the other hand, those who have seen De Gregori live (even in his last tour with Venditti) have Already known his ironic side. Almost nothing is as it seems. Between him and Checco, Francesco is the least traditional in terms of composition and song structure, and he is also the most irreverent towards his own figure. He is the one who demystifies and deconsecrates himself.

The atmosphere they create is friendly and respectful. Checco thinks of De Gregori as the last singer-songwriter and De Gregori recognizes in Checco a Chaplinian look, uncomfortable because, in some ways, pure. What do they have in common? They observe the varied and damaged humanity, they are willing to forgive it. The mask and the singer-songwriter: they both seek the truth. This time they approached in their own way. The comedian and excellent pianist Victor Borge said: «Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”