Review by Jack Foley & Paul White
IT'S often said that it is the Simple Things in life which delight, and on Thursday night (November 15th, 2001), at Shepherd's Bush Empire, Zero 7 and friends certainly proved this to be true.
This chilled out, funky trip through their debut album was an absolute delight and one which lingered in the memory long after the lights came up at the finale.
Zero 7 are relatively new on the scene, but since the launch of Simple Things earlier in the year, there seems to be no stopping them - they were hot favourites to land the coveted Mercury Music Prize (but got pipped by PJ Harvey), were among the highlights at the V2001 Festival and have just finished a European tour with two sell-out gigs in the capital.
It was appropriate, therefore, that Zero 7 should start with the title track from the album, as performed by Mozez and two sensational soul backing singers. Mozez delights on stage with his delicate Motown vocals and the moves to back it up; a real find for Zero 7. You can tell from watching this soul cat that he believes in the music and sung the lyrics passionately, particularly during I Have Seen, another of the album's many highlights.
But part of the allure of Zero 7, dare I say simplicity, lies in their ability to change or rotate styles and vocalists. This, in turn, makes it a much more interesting affair than simply watching the musicians go through their paces. Having said that, the musicians gave as good as anyone else on the stage, whether dancing around in a dressing gown or simply thanking the crowd for their support - without which, they acknowledge, they wouldn't be where they are today.
After a short instrumental session, one of the main associated faces of Zero 7 appeared on stage - Sia Furler, the friendly Australian with the blistering voice and devastating smile, which is never far from her face even during the more heartfelt tracks. Sia is a performer and as she danced, waved, laughed and joked with the crowd it was easy to believe her when she sang "I Love You'' during her first appearance, Distractions. Everyone fell in love with her.
And if Sia wasn't enough, she was replaced by another seductress, Sophie Barker, for the current single, In The Waiting Line, a simple, yet soulful effort that sounds original and boasts a nice groove, some nice beats and another set of blissful vocals.
Alone, the two vocalists are terrific; together they are awesome and yet, in an unperfect world, there is a happy medium between these two in the way that they counteract each other by personality and style. Yet they gel as one when singing together. Destiny, which was written by both of them, was one of the highlights of the evening and not even the finale.
Such was the quality of the whole evening, however, that Zero 7 had the crowd in the palm of their hands and took the chance to show just how much they are enjoying their success by appearing for two encores. The first featured Mozez in an almost jamming style session and a moment of pause to consider world events; and the second was a coming together of all the components which make Zero 7 complete. Sia, Sophie and Mozez teamed up with the two backing singers and the rest of the band for a finale like no other - one which drew out the individual qualities of each performer and almost made you forget it was winter outside.
If ever you get the chance to see Zero 7, grab it with both hands and don't
let go. Zero 7 are a class act and it remains to be seen whether they will
be able to maintain such high standards on future releases or, indeed, play
such small venues again.
For further information on Sia Furler, click here.