The Guardian : Lending a Tenor - U2 France

The Guardian : Lending a Tenor

jeudi 14 septembre 1995

Source : The Guardian

From The Guardian :

Lending a Tenor

Pavarotti in harmony with Meat Loaf and Duran Duran ? In Modena, anything goes—as Adam Sweeting discovers

Previous guests at Luciano Pavarotti’s annual Modena shindigs have included Sting, Bob Geldof, Bryan Adams and Anita Baker, but the adjective has not yet been coined to describe the line-up at this year’s event. As a minimum requirement, it would have to be a hybrid of "eclectic" and "bizarre", with a soupcon of Euroschmaltz thrown in.

How an artist qualifies to get the summons from the legendary tenor remains mysterious, although the theme of this year’sevent - a benefit for the children of Bosnia - offers clues. Dolores O’Riordan, of The Cranberries, has sung about Bosnia inthe past, while a feature of U2’s last live shows was an onstage hookup with embattled citizens of former Yugoslavia. Nonad Bach is a Croatian musician, based in New York, who has committed himself and his music to aiding his fellow-countrymen and raising awareness of the misery they continue to suffer. Composer and orchestrator Michael Kamen, who arranged most of the evening’s music, is best known for writing soundtracks to preposterous Hollywood blockbusters. However, he comes from a family background rooted in protest music and left-wing activism, and he wrote a song for the occasion, The Bridge Is Broken, about the destruction of a bridge in Mostar. Unfortunately, efforts to sing it by the entirecast of the show collapsed in a shambles of missed cues and wrong notes, but its message remained fairly clear. Across it all loomed the ample shadow of Luciano Pavarotti. The outdoor concert served as a precursor to this week’s major horse-riding event at Pavarotti’s nearby riding complex. The establishment also houses Luciano’s pasta restaurant, enabling him to sate his enthusiasms for music, food and horses without the tiresome necessity of leaving his own neighbourhood.

If there was little in the way of musical continuity, Pavarotti served as the thematic glue, binding it vaguely together, with the arrival of his good buddy the Princess of Wales guaranteeing a sprinkling of media interest. What on earth could Pavarotti have in common with the Italian rapper, Jovanotti, for example ? Perhaps more than you’d think. They’re both Italian, and each has a gift for sending his follow countrymen into transports of delirium. Their collaboration on a thing called Serenata Rap was a cut-out-and-keep guide on how to crash together styles and genres. Over a shuffling, jazzy beat, Jovanotti rapped benignly (gangsta rap simply wouldn’t be possible in Italian), then Pav sang his parts just like an operatic tenor.

Not a man to make things too complicated for himself, Pavarotti merely continued to be Pavarotti all evening, while everyone else fell into place around him. The pop singers had to resist falling under Luciano’s powerful spell and the consequent urge to try to imitate him. Meat Loaf suffered paroxysms of nerves over his duet with The Great Man, Come Back To Sorrento, while Dolores O’Riordan grasped that the only way to tackle Schubert’s Ave Maria was to let instincttake over. Simon Le Bon’s duet with Pav on Duran Duran’s Ordinary World seemed like one of those marriages that were never destined to happen.

There were pleasant surprises too. I can’t remember ever meeting anyone who claimed to like listening to Michael Bolton, but the power and range of his voice apparently stopped Pavarotti in his tracks (at least for a moment) when they duettedon Vesti La Ciubba. The Chieftains, added to the bill after they had been tracked around the world by telephone, contributed a tongue-in-cheek medley from their Long Black Veil album before backing the weighty tenor on a loud and bibulous Funiculi Funicula.

The appearance of Bono, The Edge and Brian Eno was keenly anticipated and provoked the most hysterical applause. It was this trio who provided the evening’s one real jolt of innovation, with a mesmerising performance of their new song, Miss Sarajevo. An eerily calm and mysterious piece, vaguely reminiscent of the Velvet Underground during their legendary"quiet" period, Miss Sarajevo is an exercise in surreal metaphor and emotional displacement. Its oblique approach is far more potent than any amount of bellowing polemic, while Pavarotti’s live contribution (carefully customised for his voice) was probably his best singing of the night.

Afterwards, as Pavarotti presided over a seemingly endless gala dinner like a medieval patriarch and the Princess of Wales nibbled fastidiously at her food, Bono discoursed earnestly with the Bosnian Foreign Minister.

Strange days indeed.

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