Review: Jack Foley
THE cool sound of Zero 7 lifted the crowd at Brixton Academy
almost as high as the balloons which could be seen floating above
the venue afterwards, in what proved to be a supremely memorable
return to the capital, on Saturday night (March 27, 2004).
Hot off the back of the release of the duo's second album, When
It Falls, Zero 7 duo, Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns, took to
the stage with their talented ensemble to mesmerize their fans
with an awe-inspiring set, designed to provide a Saturday night
Though not much of a progression, musically, from the elements
which made Simple Things such a success, the new material
is still strong enough to justify the hype surrounding them, and
made an effective travelling companion to the debut album.
Tracks such as the dreamy, laidback Home, featuring new
vocalist, Tina Dico, or Warm Sound, with the slick vocals
of fans' favourite, Mozez, are an enticing reminder of what made
Simple Things so loved by so many.
In album form, they effortlessly ease you into the best of moods;
played live, they blow you away.
Zero 7 come at you on several fronts. Their music is spellbinding
at the best of times, yet in the hands of their vocalists, it
can be out of this world.
Take Sia Furler, for example, the happy-go-lucky Australian whose
husky tones crash over you like waves of seduction, or the smooth
style of Sophie Barker, whose voice has the power to send shivers
down your spine.
Or even the guest instrumentalists, a multi-talented bunch, who
provide compelling solos on everything from hammond organs, to
acoustic guitars, harmonica, trumpets and clarinets.
There is so much going on that the concert fairly zips by, sweeping
you along on its tidal wave of joy.
Furler is a classic case in point, a singer who looks deliriously
happy, and completely overwhelmed on every occasion I have seen
Like a little girl lost, she skips onto the stage, almost innocently,
before delivering her songs and then skipping away in a bubble
Her smile is impossibly cute, her demeanour difficult not to
fall in love with, and her vocal style knee-trembling in its quality.
When she performed a line dancing set piece, with Tina Dico,
it was impossible not to laugh, as her enthusiasm is giddily infectious.
Likewise, the ultra-cool Mozez, who arrived on-stage with all
the laidback charm of a Sammy Davis Jnr, or Marvin Gaye.
His vocals are as smooth as velvet, and his enthusiasm perfectly
chilled. When he waves his arms to announce a break in the music,
you may even believe he could part the Red Sea!
His renditions of I Have Seen and Warm Sound were
supremely classy, evoking memories of that age-old Motown cool,
while the music which accompanied him was as tight as we have
come to expect.
Dico, too, had her moments, fitting in effortlessly well with
her more established colleagues, while we shouldn't forget the
soulful backing presence of Yvonne John Lewis, who took her opportunities
to bask in the limelight whenever they were presented.
Zero 7 work as a collective whole, and there is not a diva among
them. When all four women took to the stage together, the site
before you was as beautiful as the music.
Highlights included the obvious crowd-pleasers, Destiny
and In The Waiting Line, from the first album, as well
as Home, Passing By and Look Up, from the new album
- which either provided a showcase of singing skills, or instrumental.
A hammond organ solo, in particular, sent the crowd wild, particularly
as the hand movements were conveyed via the big screen at the
back of the stage, while a harmonica showpiece, on Look Up
(a track which bears an uncanny similarity to the Bonobo style)
also went down well.
This was, in short, a masterclass in chilled musical perfection
- and a Saturday night in which the woes of the world seemed a
million miles away.