Serj Tankian

Teatro Degli Arcimboldi, Milan - 2010

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

After being blown away by Serj Tankian and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, we here at Metalmoments saw it as our duty, as we had the time and the money, to go as quick as possible from Berlin to Milan, to try and catch Serj Tankian once again, now with the Orchestra Filarmonica Italiana.
The trip and getting in is a longer story in itself, which we will not retell here, but for a simple yet heartily ‘thank you’ to all who got involved in helping us out and making our stay a good one, especially Savo and Bianca.

As we entered the theatre we were impressed by its magnitude; this place was much larger than the Admiralspalast in Berlin, and that had been pretty big to begin with! All the personnel was dressed up in their best attire, and the clash in looks between them and the visitors, who mostly consisted of normal everyday metalheads, was striking, but also helped build a certain atmosphere already prior to the music.
In contrary to the Berlin gig, this was a seated concert, and we ended up on the second balcony, but in the first row and dead centre from the stage. To be honest, I don’t think we could have asked for a better place than this! Sure, if we were on the floor we would have been closer and been able to more clearly see the expressions of Tankian, but from up where we were, we were able to see the entire orchestra, something which would certainly have proved a bit difficult had we been closer and lower. And the sound, oh, the sound was perfect!

Now, if the operative word for the last show had been ‘intense’ then I would say that ‘overwhelming’ is the word best suited for this nights concert.
The setlist was completely the same, but the performance was altogether different. I found it a bit odd, seeing how this was the first concert where Tankian used the Orchestra Filarmonia Italiana, and that in Berlin he had already made good use of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra on a prior occasion, which ought to mean he would feel more at home with them, but this show seemed much more relaxed and calmly executed than the last one. What later gave me a real shock, was that upon inspecting my clock after the show, I noticed that the two had played for exactly the same length of time, even though it had felt much, much longer!

Anyway, on to the show.
Once again, Tankian garnered much appreciative response from the sold out hall just by entering the stage, and when the music quickly followed, the response was duly increased tenfold. Musically, it was pretty much the same show as the last one, albeit as I mentioned in a slightly less hurried state, and this more relaxed approach was very welcome. I’m not sure what made the outcome, maybe it was the seated audience which made the difference.
Between songs was where the real change lay however, as the seasoned artist that he is took more time to speak to the audience and kid around with them; and we could hear him do so! The sound from the stage travelled very well here in the Arcimboldi, and we were able to hear nearly every single word he said, even above the shouts of the crowd.
One comment, not said in between but in fact inside a song, was when Tankian added to the song Money a short sentence nearing the end, saying; “Fuck your money, Mr. Berlusconi”, pointing to the Italian prime-minister. This comment really got the crowd going, as they shouted out their consent.
More shouts were raised later on, but this time it wasn’t any form of remark which caused the uproar, it was merely such a simple thing as Tankian taking of his jacket, after which he said that it was time to get serious, and then the song Honking Antelope began playing.
Like the last time, Dan Monti and Erwin Khachikian (now without the handlebar moustache), were perfectly comfortable at Tankian’s side, but Tankian also spent a lot of time with the conductor of the orchestra, so much in fact they were seen walking arm in arm as they left the stage after the last song.
After the last song, Tankian was also given a proper sending off, Italian style, as the entire audience rose to their feet for the applause, and then stayed on their feet as they sang Olé Olé.

It was a strange feeling, at once feeling completely fulfilled, and yet with a yearning for more, but this is what I felt as I walked slowly out of the building.
Serj Tankian performed excellently, this much you must have gathered so far, but before I round this of, I would like give a special thanks to the men or women handling the lights in the theatre. Never before have I seen a light-show which complemented the music as well as this one. When the music was loud and wild, so was the song; when in the calmer parts, the lights were turned lower, all in time with the music.


Feed Us
Sky Is Over
Lie Lie Lie
Gate 21
Peace Be Revenged
The Charade
Honking Antelopes
Disowned Inc.
Elect The Dead
Falling Stars
Beethoven’s Cunt
Empty Walls

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