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Marco Benevento Trio, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY- 12/19

Photo by Scott Harris

In a scene ripe with exemplary keyboard talent, Marco “The Wonderful Wizard of Weird” Benevento, again demonstrated why he provides a most unique experience. Last Friday, December 19th at the glorious Brooklyn Bowl, he delivered yet another stellar performance. The Berklee School of Music grad has been steadily playing for over a decade, but has experienced a major shift in exposure and acceptance of late. A huge fan of sound experimentation, he uses a piano rigged with a variety of circuit bent toys, guitar pick-ups, amplifiers, pedals and other effects including an organ. Benevento rarely sings but rather uses his keyboard to treat his audience to one long jam session after another, using pedals and effects to create an altered and euphoric atmosphere, interspersed with moments reminiscent of classical, jazz and pleasantly weird music.

Benevento continually manages to carve out a niche all his own. In Italian, “Bene” means “good” and “vento” means “wind” and like an easy wind blowing across the room, Marco delivers his patented magic. Through a partnership in his own label, The Royal Potato Family, Benevento recently released his fifth studio album, Swift and is currently on tour in support of it. Carousing in the current incarnation as the Marco’s trio, are musical veterans Dave Dreiwitz (Ween) and Andy Borger (Norah Jones). At a concert hall near you, one can witness firsthand the kinetic carnival he relentlessly cascades to those in attendance, complete with whizzing, whirling and wacky surreal sounds, layered and fused with the pounding of extravagant avant-garde craftsmanship on the ivories. The contagious sounds emanating from the laid back musician’s frenetic fingers exude a cool confident style.

With a burgeoning and frantic assortment of fervent fans crowding the familiar stage, Marco began to play what would be a tour de force of tunes for two straight hours. Highlights included fan favorite, “Atari” from the 2006, Invisible Baby album, a tune which has also played relentlessly in the rotation for good reason – it is a solid joyous romp. The opening act, The Parkington Sisters, joined Marco for an exquisite and memorable version of his most known song, “This is How it Goes” – a rarity that includes vocals. The audience was pulled in like a tractor beam for the contagious sing-along that is “At the Show.” The hit single from Benevento’s last record is the first he has released utilizing his own vocals and the result is a successful foray into a new arena.

Although the evening was devoid of the fan-loved cover “Bennie and the Jets,” he did mix a bevy of his older selections with newer ditties and other covers including an infectious and incendiary take on The Rolling Stone’s “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” The mood was festive, with Dreiwitz adorning a Santa hat, as the band delved into a raucous final encore. “Merry X-Mas (War is Over) is John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1971 release elaborating upon the themes of social unity and peaceful change enacted through personal accountability and empowerment and it was eloquently delivered by special guest Ryan Montbleau on vocals. It was a magical and enjoyable conclusion to a memorable night.

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