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Zero 7: Caught live at Brixton Academy


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 to remember.

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 her.

Like a little girl lost, she skips onto the stage, almost innocently, before delivering her songs and then skipping away in a bubble of delight.

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.

 

 

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