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.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 3 Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' goes viral 35 years later
Churchill: The Nation's Farewell, TV review: Paxman reveals truth behind crane docker tribute, but delivers a fitting honour to Winston
Read Tom DeLonge's open letter about Blink 182 split: 'Our relationship got poisoned'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia