Premiata Forneria Marconi / Low Level Flight

The Music Hall, Toronto ON November 25

BY Eric ThomPublished Nov 27, 2008

Local unit Low Level Flight assumed the unenviable position of warming up the hardcore roomful of fanatical PFM aficionados with their mellow brand of indie pop but - thanks to the energetic persistence and dynamic vocals of front-man Ryan Malcolm, they more than survived.

Yet the night clearly belonged to Italy's most enduring export as the six-member act mounted the stage, immediately enveloped in the warmth of the Italia-strong crowd long before a note was played. PFM - named for the Milan Bakery that originally sponsored them - are a different breed who have tirelessly treaded the boards since the success that catapulted them onto the world stage some 38 years prior.

Playing a generous retrospective of both the known and the unknown, PFM began with a song that underscored their supreme musicianship as it name-checked one of their key influences: "20th Century Schizoid Man." The dual attack of original member Franco Mussida on guitar and Patrick Djivas on bass, set the stage nicely for the inventive, artfully-arranged and original music that was to follow. Enter the ever-affable, powerhouse drummer and unofficial spokesperson, Franz Di Cioccio on drums and vocals, and the energy of their show became the secondary calling card of any PFM encounter.

Far from their unfortunate prog rock tag, PFM delivers intricate arrangements that capitalize on the progressive talents of Lucio Fabbri's violin-playing and the keyboard wizardry of Gianluca Tagliavini as Djivas' animated, jazz-hued bass, Mussida's inspired leads (electric or acoustic) and Di Cioccio's rhythmic thunderclap percussion merge to create a majestic genre unto itself - delivered in near-classical proportions.

This is rock on an elegant scale and the faithful were imbued with a night to remember, climaxing with the crowd-stirring encore of the aptly titled "Celebration." Robust cheers of "bravo" were never more fitting.

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