COLUMBIA, Md. – A couple of hours before showtime, Italy’s finest exports this side of Sophia Loren are sitting backstage, casual in sneakers, socks and pullover sweaters, some seated on the floor, others on chairs and couches.
Soon, they will transform into the glamorous rock stars they’ve become, clad in similar-hued olive and black ensembles, thick-heeled boots and the kind of sex appeal – chiseled cheekbones, piercing eyes, tattoos covering lean torsos – that cannot be manufactured.
Måneskin – singer Damiano David, bassist Victoria De Angelis, drummer Ethan Torchio and guitarist Thomas Raggi − is finally taking some time to exhale. A recent whirl through New York started with a typically blistering performance at the MTV VMAs – where they won best rock video for their aching power ballad, “The Loneliest” – continued with a pop-up performance that packed Times Square and wrapped with a triumphant, sold-out show at Madison Square Garden Thursday.
The feat is significant.
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“It’s one of the most famous arenas in the world,” says David. “As an Italian band to sell it out, it is … unexpected.”
The New York date kicked off a North American leg of Måneskin’s Rush! world tour, named after the band's third studio album released in January and essentially a continuation of their Loud Kids tour that launched last fall.
Saturday's show at Merriweather Post Pavilion in suburban Maryland – an amphitheater outlier amid the arenas slated for most of this worldwide spin that will keep the band traveling through December – is proof of the level of adoration they’ve cultivated.
Teenagers and gray hairs stand shoulder to shoulder, seats and the ample lawn full, the tropical storm swiping the Mid-Atlantic this night no deterrent for fans who will bounce, sway and shout lyrics – in English and Italian – as Måneskin guides them through nearly two hours of purely joyful rock ‘n’ roll so potent, it makes your insides flip.
David is correct that an Italian band – teenage buskers in Rome about eight years ago – selling out one of the most hallowed venues in the world defines anomaly.
“We offer something rare nowadays,” David says by way of explanation. “The intensity of the show, there are no backing tracks, it’s all organic. In this moment, it’s unique. The other big (rock) bands are very much older than us and we connect the generations.”
But that an Italian band with a few rock hits – “Supermodel,” “The Loneliest,” “Gossip” and the new “Honey (Are U Coming?)” – but no massive radio airplay has accomplished a U.S. takeover is remarkable.
Måneskin live is a glorious bombardment of sound and light
“In Europe, we’re known from Eurovision (which the band won in 2021) and most of our fans are our age,” says De Angelis, who, like her bandmates, is in her early 20s. “Here, a lot of people are coming to the shows saying, ‘I love rock music and you’re bringing it back in a new form.’ ”
Måneskin’s 20-song set is a glorious bombardment of searing lights, razor-sharp musicianship, effortless charisma and feral energy.
From the opening slow-build slammer “Don’t Wanna Sleep” to the pre-encore finale “Kool Kids,” with dozens of fans swarming the stage – at the band’s behest – to dance, sing and share in their sweat, Måneskin is relentless.
During “Zitti e buoni,” a European smash in 2021, Raggi attacks his fretboard with his guitar behind his head while De Angelis playfully cuts her striking bass notes at his feet and on her knees.
Damiano’s alluring vocals have hips to match as he dives into the singsong chorus of “Honey (Are U Coming?),” his gravelly voice soon turning honeyed for “Coraline,” performed with clenched eyes under a cluster of purple lights.
Torchio, meanwhile, combines his love of jazz drumming with the brawn of tom-tom thundering rock ‘n’ roll on every song, but particularly during a ferocious breakdown with De Angelis during “For Your Love.”
Each member – sans Torchio, for obvious reasons – takes a turn hopping into the cramped pit at the front of the stage to get nose-to-nose with fans, grinning through the feeding frenzy.
Måneskin still love 'Beggin.' Really.
While the Måneskin repertoire has expanded, a couple of relative classics still make the concrete floors practically shake – the sexually charged thumper “I Wanna Be Your Slave” and their Eurovision winner, a scrappy cover of “Beggin.’ ”
David received some criticism for his comment about The Four Seasons' hit at the Garden show: “I usually make fun of this song, but tonight we have to be grateful to this song,” he said.
But backstage at Merriweather Post, he promises that he “loves that song for many reasons” and was kidding with his flippant remark. “It’s a cute memory. It’s one of the first songs we played together seven years ago and when we went on (the Italian) ‘X Factor’ (in 2017), it was our first standing ovation. It’s always brought luck to us.”
Luck might factor in Måneskin’s success, but the commitment to honing their stagecraft and sharpening their musicianship is what has turned them into one of the best live bands currently gracing a stage.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Måneskin 2023 Rush world tour review: Band talks 'unexpected' success