Bless Amplifico: they’d made flyers for the tables in Heriot Watt University Union which featured a cartoon piggy bank and oh-so-humbly asked for online donations to help make their album – and after hearing them I’m actually thinking of throwing in a tenner.
Amplifico’s lead singer/keyboard player, Donna Macioca, has simply the most beautiful voice I’ve heard in a long time. She’s almost overwhelmingly talented, in the least affected way. On stage she was more than a little reminiscent of KT Tunstall, but the haunting, pure sound of her voice stays with you for infinitely longer, and Amplifico’s streetwise sound was an altogether different experience. The band’s biography likens her voice to a female Chris Martin and they’re not wrong. She has that extra something that hits you where it matters and makes you just want to hear more and more.
Amplifico’s sound was often jazz-like, with entertaining rhythms, soulful, contemporary vocals, lively keyboard melodies and subtle guitar accompaniment. ‘Year From Me’ was their moving and melodic opener and I’ve been singing it ever since. Aside from the gift of Macioca’s exquisite voice, their collective sound is unlike anyone I’ve heard, which is a precious thing in itself. She played keyboards for most of the set, stamping her feet like an excited child as she sung and hammered out the melodies, then swapped onto guitar for one track.
‘The Comedy Stops Here’ was an up-tempo track which brought the guitar to the forefront, unlike previous tunes which were all about the keyboard: not wrongly, for Macioca flourished on the keys. Like most of the songs performed, it was ridiculously catchy and I’d defy anyone not to get it stuck in their head. It’s still stuck in mine days on.
Two of the tracks Amplifico performed were proclaimed nameless, which was disappointing, but I’ll assume they’re waiting for inspiration to strike and compliments to them for such a relaxed approach to unfinished work – possibly taking advantage of the sleepy-looking students. A tattered jotter was brought out and placed on the edge of the keyboard for assistance during these, which I found most endearing. One track featured an ‘epic glockenspiel solo’ by the guitarist, which was so epic I missed it completely – it was announced afterwards.
Behind every great band there’s a memorable drummer and Amplifico’s Dave Brunton performed some outstanding drum acrobatics all while wearing a cheeky smile and a bulbous ankle (from receiving a mis-aimed kick in a game of football, apparently).
Amplifico have a rare and distinctive blend of talent and passion which, coupled with a liberal dose of good-natured likeability, makes them truly a pleasure to see. The boys take a back seat to Macioca with good grace and the harmony of this union is fundamental to their success. They are surely just a gentle stretch away from fame and I think it should be the record labels pulling a metaphorical hamstring in an effort to get to them first. Just listen to them!
Guest article from Laura S.