Al On Italian TV, 26.11.2010

Report from Rome

I'm just back from Rome, where I met Al and visited the town once again during the (rainy) weekend...
I was always curious to know, being directly in a studio, how a TV show practically happens, and the announcement of Al Stewart was the occasion to make this wish come true, just to understand what happens when we are from the other side of the TV and we see everything is so perfect. It was not easy to get a seat in the audience, but after many phone calls and more than a trip to Rome in the production offices, I’ve been able to obtain the “invitation” to come inside and be part of the audience.
Indeed the show is done in a theatre, the Foro Italico’s Auditorium, adapted for the occasion to a TV studio where, on request of the show authors, I arrived very early to give to them some hot pieces of my collection, like they asked me, in order to have the final say from the show host, which I couldn’t meet. I thought to bring with me, with a lot of efffort, the “Year of the cat” gold award including its framework, and the italian, japanese, spanish and mexican issues of the YOTC, OTB and TP 7”s.
After about half an hour of waiting I was told that it was enough to show the YOTC LP, that the host had found yet. Not a big issue, after all the main thing was to meet and greet Al, but this proved to be a difficult thing, since at the entrance to the ladder leading backstage there was a tough security service and when the show had started it was only possible to come out of the theatre when there was spots-broadcasting; so I could do it only after the YOTC performance, where Al was in excellent shape, laughing as always, lowering the tone of some verses with higher notes, moving his guitar among lights, colours and much glamour. All in all a good version, unreleased if we consider the edits that were done.
At the first occasion, I went out to say hello to him, but maybe because of the presence of other italian very important artists, it wasn’t possible to be near the backstage area. Only just before the Time Passages performance, I could meet him on the ladders leading to the main stage and greet him briefly; he gave me a pleasant smile and exchanged very few words while I was giving him my welcome in Italy.
Then, he was literally dragged out by his manager, I don’t know if he was italian or not. I immediately rushed to my seat and I liked very much the “new version” of Time Passages that, listened after long time, it didn’t seem so ugly as many of us think.
When it was possible again to come out of the studio (about 20 mins later), Al was yet gone away since his performance was over. All in all a good experience, I hope it was good for Al too, since he is hardly used, recently, to be on stages with spangles, luxury, lights and ballet girls. And by the way, he sang live….
I’d be curious to know his impression after this experience and to know the difference, if it exists, with the performance he held in 1999 dueting YOTC with Claudio Baglioni.
Antonio Nicastro (Italy)  
P.S.: If you watch the video of "Time Passages" on, at 0'44" note the big mistake on the music sheet of the saxophonist: Time Passanger (sic!).