Il Divo, Royal Albert Hall, London
Wednesday 18 April 2012
"I know I'll collect so many phone numbers from all these beautiful ladies," claims Carlos Marín, the diminutive, gleaming Spanish baritone. A section of "beautiful ladies" at the front hold up cards with their phone numbers on. It's cruise-ship entertainment from Simon Cowell's operatic pop quartet, which he formed in 2004, presumably under lab conditions. His experiment has spawned five staggeringly successful albums (the latest being last year's Wicked Game) and sold over 26 million records
These sharp-suited "divine performers" are Marín’s lothario, the US tenor David Miller (the one who looks like Kevin Bacon), Swiss tenor Urs Buhler (the one who looks a figure skater) and French pop singer Sebastien Izambard (the one who resembles a high-level record executive or Cowell himself).
There is plenty of power (all four of them at full pelt make your fillings twitch) and precision from these slick warblers, who deliver their ballads in various languages, but little soul or personality. There's no real sense of what these classically trained musicians actually like to sing. However, thankfully, they are humanised by some onstage blunders – Miller trips going down the stairs and some amusing (intentional or not) patter: "I'm still the only single one, oh what a depressing life I lead," teases Marín.
"None us had any idea what we were doing at the start of Il Divo," maintains Miller, before admitting their voices are most suited to "musical theatre" numbers. And he's right. Their potent lungs work best on "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "Somewhere" from West Side Story.
They work less well, however, on karaoke favourites such as "Unchained Melody", "My Way", "Crying" and, worst of all, "Hallelujah". Leonard Cohen's exquisite lament has been dismembered quite a bit of late (mostly on The X-Factor), and it’s maimed once again by this histrionic foursome. You don't really care for music, do you? Indeed.
Their song selection is so crushingly obvious, even when they go off-piste with Chris Isaak's wonderful "Wicked Game", they have to project huge, dirty great flames on the backdrop.
However, this experience is clearly providing an adoring crowd a great deal of joy. There are standing ovations, whoops and flowers are constantly being handed to the affable singers. The hunks regularly serenade women in the audience to show their gratitude. They do lay the camembert on thick. "This is the best thing I've ever done in my life," claims Izambard. Judging by the ecstatic noises that greet their final number, "Time to Say Goodbye", this concert has made a lot of people very happy. Just not me.
1. Come What May - the love theme from Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge
2. Dove L'Amore - By Cher
3. Adagio - Albinoni's Adagio
5. Si Tu Me Amas
6. Don't Cry For Me Argentina
7. Everytime I Look At You
9. Unchained Melody (SenzaCatene)
10. My Way
1. Senza Parole
2. Melanconia (Wicked Game)
3. La Vida Sin Amor
6. Llorando (Crying)
7. Ven A Mi (Stay)
8. Regresa A Mi (Unbreak My Heart)
9. Pour QueTuMaimes Encore
Encore - Time to Say Goodbye
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