Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane

Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane
Regent Theatre | 12 November 2012

Mike Patton appears looking like the Godfather with his slicked-back hair and white jacket-and-pants combo – an outfit perfectly suited to performing his interpretations of orchestral Italian pop music from the ’50s and ’60s. Tonight Mondo Cane involves a full band, string ensemble and three back-up singers all led by a conductor, with Patton the undeniable star. He brings his trademark quirkiness as he starts the brilliantly crazy jazz cacophony of Che Notte! with the sharp, loud blast of a cap gun. Next, the sultriness of Ore D’Amore is a complete contrast and, interestingly, towards the end Patton inserts the lyrics from a Men At Work song, Who Can It Be Now?, in the first inkling of a cheeky Australian tribute.

The swelling string introduction to Quello Che Conta then segues into the brutal intensity of Urlo Negro, complete with its insanely happy chorus sitting in between Patton’s deranged, high-pitched screaming. Throughout the night during breaks between songs, the flute player riffs into the intro of Men At Work’s Down Under, which makes Patton crack up laughing every time. It seems perhaps an in-joke, or maybe the band are enjoying giving the performance an Australian touch – it’s hard to tell.

“If this next one doesn’t get you in the mood, you’re dead!” Patton inserts his vocal gymnastics and sound effects into the perky calypso verses of Pinne Fucile Ed Occhiali. “I’m fascinated by fascinators, anyone got one?” Inexplicably, one woman has a fascinator with her tonight, and makes her way to the stage. She pins it to Patton’s head, and departs after a peck on the cheek, fanning herself with her hand as Patton says, “Well that pretty much is going to ruin the next song”. He launches into L’Uomo Che Non Sapeva Amare, a crooning waltz that seems just right coming out of the mouth of a man wearing a fascinator. A girl in a flouncy dress races from her seat to the front of the stage, holding up a note for Patton to take. He eventually notices her, and, mid-lyric, takes the page. He looks at it briefly, still singing, then flings it away, finishing the song and muttering, “I speak no English,” with a nonchalant shrug. The crowd laughs, and Patton remains entertainer extraordinaire.

Storia D’Amore is perhaps the best Patton reinvention tonight – his endless capacity for reinterpretation is impressive as he sings quick-fire, singsong lyrics then turns effortlessly into a growling, operatic lunatic. The chameleonic nature of his voice is completely engaging: from a saccharine pop croon to a menacing metal shriek. As the band makes moves to exit the stage, Patton looks around, saying, “Fuck it, let’s do another one!” The vocal crowd yells for more, some questionable requests being rock hits from Patton’s Faith No More days.

The last song is the beautiful Scalinatella, with guitar accompaniment bringing out the pureness of Patton’s voice, especially in the gorgeous repetitive lyrics that fade out on his agile tongue. The band creeps underneath ever so quietly; the swelling strings and haunting clarinet finish off. “That’s all we got!” And it is more than enough.

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