(Royal Festival Hall. 16th November 2013. Review by Kai Hoffman)
Revered by the mainly Italian audience at the Royal Festival Hall, Paulo Conte and his ten-piece orchestra gave a flawless performance last weekend. This appearance at the EFG London Jazz Festival was the only London gog in their current tour schedule.
The enthusiasm of the sold-out audience was palpable - with rapturous applause accompanying the beginnings of numerous songs. Conte has a repertoire which appeals to fans from eighteen to eighty, and a show involving cinematic lighting cues, two-level staging and a wide variety of instruments (from violin to electric bass, oboe to tenor sax), there was certainly something for everyone and it was wonderful to see this Italian legend live on stage.
Their set included many of Conte's major hits from over six decades. My personal favourite was his classic 'Via Con Me', with gypsy-style guitars, wailing violin and fantastically light, swinging drums.
The singer's distinctive growl, in similar fashion to Tom Waits or Bob Dylan, has always added not just gravel but also tremendous gravitas to the poetry of his songs. I just wish my Italian were better!