Chilly Gonzales - The Capstone Theatre
Live Review

Chilly Gonzales – The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool

First and foremost, kudos has to go to promoters Evol tonight for a refreshing change of scenery from the humdrum Liverpool gigging circuit. A fresh venue in the Capstone theatre instils us with a usually sadly lacking sense of excitement for Chilly Gonzales, where a mixed crowd have turned out to witness the self-proclaimed musical genius who, over the course of the evening, skilfully blends classical music, performance art, hip hop, stand up comedy and musical theory into an intriguing, touching and most importantly poignant performance.

Cutting a bizarre figure in his pajama-like get up, monogrammed bathrobe and worn out green slippers, Gonzales looks like he would be more at home in a Tim Burton movie than in an immaculate and almost brand new theatre as he shambles out onto the stage demurely and takes a seat, waiting for the silence that’s quickly spreading around the room.

For those used to seeing Gonzales’ in slightly more raucous form, any doubts are soon swept away by the deftness of touch and mastery of the piano that he displays tonight, drawing the audience into a hushed reverence as he glides effortlessly into new material from the recently released Solo Piano album. It’s not simply his luxuriant playing that has the crowd enraptured though, as tonight’s intimate setting sees Gonzales opening his heart and mind and baring his soul to a room full of strangers. There’s a melancholic sadness that creeps in behind the eyes of this otherwise vivacious and charismatic performer that seeps into every note he plucks from the beautiful looking Steinway that stands proudly and solitarily on the stage, as he explains how he “has always been drawn to the minor key.”

That’s what makes tonight’s show (one of the few gigs we’ve been to in recent memory that truly deserves the title of “show”) such a soul warming and humanising experience. Whether he’s rapping over a simple arpeggiated piece, sharing anecdotes about Daft Punk or passionately enthralling us with his explanation of the music that he obviously holds so dear, Gonzales is a force of nature. At times it’s impossible to tear your eyes away from the man, so magnetic is his appeal. When he invites a clearly traumatised young man on stage to play a duet, the fear from both volunteer and audience is tangible, but Chilly instantly soothes and coaches him until they’re knocking out a piece as good as any other we hear tonight in no time at all. Two thirds of the way through the show he kicks it up a notch bouncing vigorously around the stool and smashing the keys like a dervish, sweat pouring off his nose as he resembles a fevered Robespierre on his deathbed.

Perhaps this is where the magic lies with Chilly Gonzales. His self deprecation and faux-egotistical charm are impossible to dislike and there’s something for everybody in this masterful performance that is all too soon wrapping to a close. There’s something of the feel of the guru about Gonzales that is impossible to pinpoint but has clearly infected and enchanted the 300 strong audience tonight.

This is music, humanity and beauty in direct action and Gonzales proves that he is a true artist as he closes on a delicate and moving cover of his “favourite song that ever came out of Liverpool”, The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, that leaves half the room a gibbering mess and the rest of us in a hushed silence that explodes into rapturous applause, wishing that this evening could go on forever.

Venue: The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool
Support Band: Guests

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