The Wonder of Woodkid at Luglio Suona Bene

Woodkid on stage in Rome
When I read back in April this year that French multi-disciplinary artist (or entertainer as he prefers to be called) Yoann Lemoine alias Woodkid had played at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, and that I had somehow managed to miss the event, I was exasperated with myself, especially when I tracked down the inevitable YouTube footage and realised that I'd missed a very special evening. Luckily, for Rome concert-goers we didn't have to wait too long before the wonderful Woodkid returned to the Eternal City, this time performing his extraordinary show in the open air Cavea as part of the Luglio Suona Bene festival yesterday evening, to a small, yet enthusiastic audience.

Before releasing his first album The Golden Age earlier this year, Lemoine was already well-known as a music video director for stars such as Lana del Rey, Katy Perry, and Rihanna. His alter ego Woodkid's project is not surprisingly, therefore, far more than just a showcase for his music, and is instead an expertly choreographed theatrical production combining strobe lights and dramatic cinematic projections, as befitting the operatic scale of many of the songs. Slated for a 9.00 pm start, it was half an hour later before the concert got underway – as dusk finally turned to dark, the lights dimmed and the foghorn-like blasts of the brass section of Woodkid's excellent band brought an awed hush to the Cavea, signalling the beginning of the concert. After the instrumental prologue, the first song, Baltimore's Fireflies, an exquisitely lovely track from his 2011 EP Iron, sung with a voice that held me enthralled for the rest of the evening - a rich velvety baritone, with a touch of gritty vibrato, like Nick Cave with a dash of Antony Hegarty - gently eased us into Woodkid's world, as the background screens took us into huge cathedral-like spaces. After the intensity of this opening track it was a delight to see Woodkid break into a huge smile at the deafening cheers of approval at the end, and the easy rapport this charismatic performer instantly created with the audience.

 On one of the hottest evenings of the year, most of the Rome audience stayed sitting for the first half of the show – even during Conquest Of Spaces which had me dancing in my seat - until the euphoric climax of the performance, when, at Woodkid's command “Rome wake up! Are you ready to jump?!” suddenly every single person in the Cavea was on their feet, clapping and cheering, as the epic Iron and The Great Escape brought the evening to a close. Saving the single Run Boy Run for a deliriously ecstatic encore, this mesmerising production ended all too soon with The Other Side, the final track on The Golden Age, but with a tantalising promise from Woodkid that we'd see again him soon...hopefully with a full orchestra!

Utterly amazing – miss him at your peril!