Half Italian, half Egyptian Alessandro Mahmoud was very well dominating the Italian music scene over the last two years.
Under his artist name “Mahmood” he worked his way up through the San Remo Music Festivals and finally getting the chance to present his most famous song “Soldi” to a European audience at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019, where he finally scored the second place. His signature style of R&B, soul and hip hop is interwoven with cultural influences from Sardinia, Arabia, and of course Italian Singer/Songwriter. In an interview he self-titled his music “Moroccan Singer/Songwriter Pop”. Just like many other countries worldwide, Italy faces a strong nationalist movement, with neo-fascist Matteo Salvini at the helm, trying to spread fear of foreign culture and racism. Mahmood representing Italy with his song “Soldi” at the Eurovision Song Contest with his highly mixed cultural background and even singing a line in Arabian was therefore a welcomed exclamation against racism. He is currently on his European leg of his “Good Vibes” tour in support of his highly acclaimed debut album “Gioventù bruciata” that was released in February 2019. This Sunday, he stopped by at the sold-out Frannz Club.
In contrast to many other concerts of Italian artists in Berlin, the audience is well mixed with roughly half of it being non-Italians. A clear sign that word about his remarkable voice and music has spread across the borders. Given the fact that his lyrics are exclusively in Italian, it is a remarkable sign proving his songwriting and vocal skills. His band consists of three fellows on drums, and keys, recreating his songs with a great portion of dynamics and feeling. First song this evening is a yet unreleased song thematically centered around Africa – lyrics-wise but also regarding the music. The song is a perfect opener with pumping bass drum and percussion. Syncopated breaks and Arabian infused minimal instrumentation create a highly energetic cocktail. Mahmood delivering a stunning and full on fire performance, he immediately catches the audience from the first second.
What follows is a setlist featuring all of his work from his debut album interwoven with two special songs. One being a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” performed as a duet together with one of his keyboard players. Especially in this song, where Mahmood is stripped from his excellent songwriting, his characteristic voice stands out amazingly and leaves no doubt that he took vocal lessons since his childhood. A second special performance of this evening is an atmospheric interlude with Mahmood chanting an Arabian choral. The self-ascribed Moroccan influence once again comes through heavily. No better place than Berlin for this kind of music.
One might wonder how long it would take Mahmood to fall in love with this city. At times when the applause would not finish, he covers his face with his hands out of gratitude. This evening he explicitly expressed his love to the Berlin music style after being out the night before the concert till late: “Music in Berlin is so…bellissima” with a big grin on his face. At the end, after having experienced such a talented musician with his exceptional voice, great songwriting talent and lyrics, a wish grows that Mahmood will be exposed to an even greater audience. Not only because of his musical skills, but also because he stands out as a pan-European artist, crossing borders and cultural boundaries with ease. That same evening, the MTV European Music Awards announced Mahmood as the best Italian act – just another sign of the potential that lies within this fabulous young musician.