ROCK / Sugar, spice, all things nice: Zucchero - Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday 04 February 1993
Unable to fill a string of stadiums as he can back home, he settled for a one-off London show to test the water. Judging by the crush of snazzy winter coats in the Apollo's foyer, he attracted mainly expatriate fans; but given that he sings mostly in Italian, this was not surprising. Still, even the few Brits in the audience had little problem recognising his first 'guest', Luciano Pavarotti.
Well, Pavarotti on film, projected 30 feet high over the stage curtain, conspicuously bonding with his pop music buddy while singing the latter's composition 'Miserere'. It's chorus 'Miserere, misero me, Pero brindo alla vita' ('Unhappy me, / And yet I celebrate life') was the first taste of the self-centred sentimentality which characterises most of his lyrics and takes some getting used to. In Zucchero's soul music sass, cleverness and cutting an attitude count for far less than sheer volume of feeling.
The curtain was whipped away to reveal the band: keyboards, drums, guitar, bass, two backing singers and two horns, and of course, the stout man in the purple hat on guitar. Things didn't bode well for the first few numbers, with the crowd sitting still while Edilmo 'Sugar' Fornaciari, looking like a youthful Blakey from On the Buses, strode around under surtitles, one of which read: 'This is a shout that goes up and down / From your ass-hole to your heart.' Covent Garden it wasn't.
Suddenly, however, the show bloomed like the thousands of sunflowers projected on to the backdrop. Zucchero strapped on his acoustic guitar and dropped the pace for 'It's Alright (The Promise)', a gorgeous ballad full of steely guitar and with a quietness that suited his voice perfectly. The crowd were up on their feet, and stayed there for the Springsteeny 'Come Back the Sun', the Pope-niggling rock track 'Miss Mary' and 'Orgia', a song whose chief feature its catchy refrain, 'Sesso, sesso, sesso' ('Sex, sex, sex'), which had the fans screaming along.
As the two-hour set progressed, Zucchero showed a talent for working the room by judicious arrangement of slow and pacy numbers that only the most experienced bands can manage. Even in the dull bits (the big blues bash where each instrument cancelled out the other) there was always a sense that change was imminent: a new image on the screen, an indulgent gospel solo, a guest artist.
Yes, that was Paul Young sheepishly entering stage left for 'Senza una donna'. Both singers sound like they have head colds at the best of times, so hearing them hit the heights together is never pleasant. Zucchero, at least, plays the pop star with aplomb. He had another half hour of belters to do while Paul slunk off. One wonders who did who a favour when they first got together.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Expert urges cat lovers to own just one animal each
- 2 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Black-ish: America's new 'racist' TV sitcom has had a mixed reception
Cilla, episode 3, ITV - review: Ed Stoppard steals the limelight as Beatles manager Brian Epstein
The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'
The Jungle Book: A tale as old as time
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >