Playing their biggest British show to date, Måneskin brought leather trousers and feather boas, gender-fluid lyrics and party-metal anthems to a packed O2.
Touring in the build-up to Eurovision, the contest that catapulted these Roman glam-pop gladiators from local heroes to multi-platinum global stars following their 2021 victory, was clearly a smart promotional strategy. But the hook-driven, arena-sized anthems on the band’s latest album Rush, a top five hit in January, also help explain why they are still selling out massive venues two years after many dismissed them as a short-lived novelty act.
With streaming figures in the billions, plus endorsements from celebrity friends including Iggy Pop and Miley Cyrus, this brash Italian quartet have now joined Abba and Celine Dion in that rarefied pantheon of post-Eurovision success stories.
As live performers, Måneskin have sexy swagger, youthful energy and strong stage chemistry in their favour. However polished and poppy their albums may sound, they also confirmed their hard rock credentials at this show, with guitarist Thomas Raggi fully flexing his maximalist grunge-metal skills while bass guitarist Victoria De Angelis gave the songs a crunchy, gnarly undertow. Sporting his new shaven-headed look and stripped to his tattoo-covered torso, snake-hipped singer Damiano David already seemed at home on the O2 stage. “This is a big-ass venue!” he roared. “Very good to be here, let’s make it memorable...”
Across two hours of mascara-smeared retro-rock melodrama, Måneskin proved they have plenty of good songs, but not quite enough great ones. Fortunately, they were smart enough to wrap weaker tracks in high-energy showmanship, lending extra crowd-friendly poke to lightweight punk-pop gallops like I Wanna Be Your Slave and syrupy emo-rock power ballads such as Coraline. As sheer visual spectacle, this was an expertly staged production, making great use of a dynamic mobile lighting rig which tilted and twirled above the band like a hovering spaceship.
For most of this set, Måneskin were big on bombast but low on subtlety. That said, David’s appealing streak of sarcastic, sweary humour brought welcome levity. One stand-out number was Bla Bla Bla, whose bawdy lyric and deadpan delivery owed more to Wet Leg than Iron Maiden. Another was the climactic Kool Kids, a defiantly snarky musical response to the backlash that followed the band’s Eurovision victory.
As has become customary, David invited dozens of fans onstage for this gloriously sloppy outsider anthem, mostly young women who danced wildly before gathering around Raggi during his final epic guitar solo, bowing down in unison as if worshipping at the altar of a Dionysian rock god.
Måneskin may not be the most original, witty or musically adventurous of bands, but they are preposterously good fun. And, like the 1980s glam-pop icons who inspired them, they rightly realise that ridicule is nothing to be scared of.