Review: Salmo + Retrospective for Love @ The Garage (London, 2nd April 2017)

With his fourth studio album, Hellvisback, released a little over a year ago, he reached the top of the Italian charts and earned platinum certification for having sold more than 50’000 copies. Now Salmo can also boast a European Tour on his music CV, with sold out gigs in major cities such as Amsterdam and London.

The Hellvisback European Tour took off in Madrid on 26th March and touched down in the British capital on 2nd April, a Sunday, perhaps not the day many people would pick for a night out. Nevertheless, even before the doors opening a long queue was stretching down the block outside Islington indie venue The Garage, obliging a couple of security guards to direct traffic and make sure customers could go in and out of the supermarket next door.

Suddenly, it felt like being in Italy. No one was speaking English anymore, apart from a few who managed to take along their British friends eager to discover more about Italian rap. The rest were mostly 20-something London-based Italians, into rap, trap as well as rock and hardcore, with a significant proportion of Sardinians, the region Salmo hails from.

At around 8pm the stage was taken by neo soul band Retrospective for Love. At first glance, the pairing of such a band with Salmo looked odd — musically the two acts are pretty different — but in reality, it was actually less out of place as one might have first thought. First of all, the band’s frontman Davide Shorty is Italian; secondly, he raps too, and last but not least he is a true fan of Salmo.

The soulful, funky beats were however soon replaced by the heavy sounds of trap and hip hop spinned by Deejay SlaiT, who made the crowd jump and sweat before Salmo even appeared and filled it with even more anticipation. When the main act finally came on the stage, the crowd welcomed him with an uproar and Salmo began rapping at incredible pace taking the adrenaline to another level.

This was a gig for everyone, newcomers and seasoned fans alike. It was frantic, electrifying, loud and strong. It was a communal Bacchus rite. Salmo rapped, jumped and whipped the audience up for hours without pause, how he can do it every night of his tour without collapsing is unbelievable.

He even went for an electric guitar solo at one point, reminiscent of his past as a metal and hardcore musician, and indulged in his Italianness when he started singing an acapella version of the globally renowned ‘O Sole Mio. Then for the final act, he prompted the crowd to let it all go in a massive pogo.

Last time Salmo was in London he was working as a kitchen hand in an Italian restaurant. A few years later, his first headliner gig in the British capital was sold out. He might have played in huge arenas but performing in smaller venues is what he loves and does best.