How to do perfect staging: a lesson from Italy
I mentioned at some point I might actually make a post drooling over Italy's Måneskin performance and staging. I was kinda bored to be honest and decided against it but then all those trashy rumours that try to bring the winners down seemed so disgraceful and embarrassing to me that I decided again to do it. Now, the truth is that their performance was a little better in the semi-final introduction act. Perhaps this was due to the anxiety of the Grand Final. This is why I am going to use photos and gifs from that act and perhaps this will show to some that the perfect package might need a little bit of everything, and not just slap your language on the audience's ears with the expectation that this alone is always enough. *Did I make this too personal?*
Anyway, I digress. And I don’t mean that the Grand Final performance wasn’t still the best of the night, I just mean it wasn’t at the same God Tier level as the semifinal one.
Here's why the Italians took advantage of the Dutch stage until its very last millimeter and way more cleverly than any other country.
This is the only act that starts from the back of the stage, where the singer Damiano David waits for us alone.
Even with the rest of the 25 competing countries, this intro makes you forget that you are watching a contest with 26 countries as guests. Unlike anyone else, Italy looks like the host, like this place belongs to them and the frontman waits for you to show you around and possibly drag you to the world of Måneskin. In fact, you almost forget it’s Eurovision - this now looks like a Måneskin concert or, even better, a more private space of theirs with an ominous industrial feel. One of the most impactful things now is the lighting. Take a look at it. Almost all contestants throw all the lights on themselves or on some important prop they have prepared. The Italians are the only ones who chose to just light the stage itself. The simple white lights on the black stage give the impression of depth and it is the only act which shows emphatically the size of the stage. Why this? Well, we already established that in the first seconds the viewers feel they are in a new space belonging exclusively to Måneskin - the lights make us feel that their area is vast and dark and we are about to be drawn to its depths.
Damiano indeed guides us to the front as he sings, where the rest of the band are on the top of a platform. The other members won’t come down and join Damiano until he sings the appropriate verse “Buona sera, signore e signori” (=Good evening, ladies and gentlemen) and accompany it with a theatrical flamboyant bow (that feels very Italian). That’s when, technically introduced to the audience after the official greeting, bassist Victoria de Angelis and guitarist Thomas Raggi come off the platform and join Damiano.
There’s nothing excessive about the visual effects. Only the use of white lights that give the perception of depth and in the background the big shadows of the group’s silhouettes. They are in the front and they cast their shadows in the back; they create to you a feeling of being trapped by them but do you really want to escape?
When the second verse starts, Victoria and Thomas take the paths left and right of the stage and leave Damiano alone. They take even more advantage of the stage and in a typical classic rock band way. These two play with the side cameras but the focus is more on Damiano, whose verse sounds more like a tongue-twister. Since the cameras are rightfully on Damiano, I must now address the elephant in the room. Damiano is particularly attractive. In fact, the whole band is almost mind-bogglingly attractive and they clearly take a lot of care about how exactly they are going to look but Damiano, as the frontman, does especially so. So let’s talk about the outfit. They all have essentially the same outfit, however it is cut differently for each based on the person’s looks and personality. Isn’t it fantastic?
Damiano, who oozes confidence and sex appeal, has accordingly the most “provocative” outfit of the four. His chest and arms are bare so that his many tattoos can be seen. I’ll talk about the other outfits later as they all have their place in the... uh... white lights.
During the second chorus Victoria and Thomas return at the center and after the chorus it is time for the first solo; Victoria’s. The cameras are now on her but the lighting remains modest to accentuate the dark beat of her bass.
Victoria is the only girl of the group and the most dressed of them all - how refreshing! Her outfit is more similar to Thomas but she is buttoned up in the front. How does she wish to underscore her uniqueness as the woman of the band? But of course, with long flamboyant girly sleeves that come to delicious contrast with her aggressive stomping and her wide strides. Both her hairstyle and her outfit is inspired or basically just outright 70′s classic rock look.
It’s time for the bridge of the song right after her solo and Damiano has his attention on her and also draws the viewer’s attention to her some more. This part of the song is lower and softer - in relative terms - that’s why Damiano “chooses” her to sing it to. The lights now turn red, the intensity rises but there’s light flirtatiousness between them, with many smiles to each other and the camera that turns around them as they launch at each other playfully.
Then the song gets darker, more intense, the guitar stronger than the bass and Damiano’s voice turns to a scream. For this part, he turns to his bro, guitarist Thomas and he now draws the attention to him.
He grabs Thomas by the neck in an intense, intimate way (that doesn’t mean sexual, just intimate. His interaction with Victoria wasn’t sexual either). It is clear that through different ways Måneskin want to stress how good and close their relations are and that their singer, who is apparently a show stealer by birth, wants to ensure that they all get equal amount of attention from their audience. I love this.
True enough, nobody is left behind! The last chorus starts with a drums solo and Damiano goes up to the platform to now meet and introduce to us Ethan Torchio. Ethan stands up and his giant shadow is on the now blue background: this is the moment for the - so I hear - somewhat shy drummer to shine in his own aesthetic. The Italians leave none of their assets to fall down and Ethan’s impressive hair rightfully steals the show.
Just like Victoria and Thomas look alike, so do Ethan and Damiano, that’s why their costumes are the most similar. Ethan has a vest that covers him more than Damiano but leaves his arms bare. Because whose else the arms do you need to see if not the drummer’s?
This song has something peculiar because it was not a song originally written for Eurovision; it slows down in the end and does not end on some impressive note from the singer as usual but with the last solo we expect, that of the guitarist, because everything is fair in Måneskin! The focus has to leave Damiano, so now it’s the time for the visual effects to finally catch fire, literally, because nobody is allowed to take their eyes off them! Måneskin use a huge amount of pyro that however feels appropriate for the intense chorus and the ending guitar solo.
Thomas steps up for his solo and I forget we are in 2021. This is the most 70s thing I would ever hope to see.
In a hell of pyro, Thomas looks like he was tranferred right from a 70s rock ‘n roll concert. His outfit would be gladly taken by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. The unbuttoned jacket with this boho tie, such a classic 70s fashion touch. His haircut and even his FACE are the epitome of the 70s - what an ending sequence!
But hey we reached the end and this is Eurovision, the song slows down dangerously. Like I said, the Italians forbid us to get distracted. The attention must return to Damiano ASAP. Damiano says one last line and takes the audience with him to the very end with a death drop.
There you have it. Måneskin had me holding my breath for the full three minutes and I did not want to take my eyes off my TV. There are countless shows that are awesome - in this very Eurovision as well - but I was impressed by how they seemed to have found the perfect balance for everything in every single moment. They found the perfect stage concept for the song, they relied on visual effects only when they needed them and they stressed every twist and turn of their sound with a perfectly fitting move or interaction. They also all effortlessly could hold your attention and they made sure that they all would, with members often helping bring out other members. This performance was beautiful and, above all, clever which is why it was undoubtedly the worthiest of the win.
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