Italian songstress Laura Pausini came to Finland to give two concerts in support of her recently released compilation album. She has made a few promotional visits before, but despite her popularity here, she hasn't performed live here before.
For those who don't know her, Laura's been around from the mid-nineties, and has released albums in several languages but not in english yet - one is in the works though. To date, she has sold some 16 million copies of her albums, and had several hits. Her musical style could be described simply as pop with strong AOR overtones - somewhat close to Celine Dion but thankfully with less "glitter" and more powerful arrangements. And I must add that she has quite an impressive voice, not short of power either!
Now onto the "gig"...the start of the concert was a bit delayed thanks to the snowstorm outside, which meant that many of the ticket buyers were still on their way when the show was scheduled to start. Better late than never, Laura and her band started with her latest hit "E Ritorno Da Te", a slowish track. The sound was quite good, and Laura's voice was in fine shape. The band consisted of a "normal" band line up (guitar, keys, bass, drums) added with an extra keyboardist/guitarist and two female backing vocalists, and for a rock fan like myself it was nice to notice that the guitarist was allowed to shine.
I'm not going to give the full tracklisting of the show simply because I was only familiar with some of her older songs and the recent radio hits. A total of 20+ songs were played, with a short intermission in the middle of the set. I spotted a few of my favourites from the album "Laura" - the only one I have heard in full - in there, "Gente" and the power ballad "Strani Amore" and naturally she performed her hit "Tra Te E il Mare" (from her album by the same title, 2000) which was very well recieved by the audience. And talking about the audience...it seemed to be slightly female-dominated, and mostly quite satisfied with sitting on their seats and clapping their hands politely. As the show progressed some of the more enthusiastic ones made their way to the front row to get closer to their idol, while the rest of us only stood up when Laura especially requested...
All in all, a good concert even if some of the songs were a little bland compared to the others. I have to admit that the one song sung in english and written by Richard Marx, "One More Time", didn't really impress me. Sure, a nice melody but a bit too r'n'b styled arrangement for my taste - most of the songs penned by Laura's italian writers were more up my alley. It remains to be heard whether the english album features songs from american songsmiths only and will they push her into the Toni Braxton/Destiny's Child etc. style. I hope not, as I'd hate to hear her lose her style.