There was something ill fitting about Fabrizio Cammarata and his Euro entourage holed up deep within the vaults of this back alley retreat for beatnutz and shoegazers that is the Sebright Arms, way out in the frayed, albeit regenerating, back pockets of Hackney. His recent album, ‘Lights’ has been well received since it was scrapped and rewritten during a period of inner conflict, the result being much more of a ‘band’ sound than the singer/songwriter we’ve known before. Perhaps the tour venues were chosen with this in mind as Fabrizio came charging out of the blocks with a toughened up, rock ‘n’ roll infused version of the all-new Fabrizio Cammarata.
He carries the frontman persona off with latino panache, performing with passion and a warm connection with his audience and bandmates. When the lights went down and opening number and lead single ‘Run, Run, Run’ began its familiar refrain, a metaphorical but noticeable intake of breath indicated that this wasn’t exactly the mood music that Cammararta fans had ventured into London’s EastEnd to experience. Moments later, a fleeting look around the floor proved that it wasn’t an unwelcome change in tempo, as heads were bouncing and feet tapping to the huge “woo woohs” that both welcomed us heartily into the feisty, innovative world of ‘Lights’ – and at the same time put out the fear of God that he was going to rupture something that would bring an early end to the evening’s entertainment. All this for a song written as testimony to serenity in the face of life’s modern breakneck pace. Ultimately, the input of passion required a slight increase in speed and in that Fabrizio created just the right balance.
The longer the show went on the more the difference between the ‘studio’ and the ‘live’ artist became clear to the live experience debutee. The “Cammarata growl” that lends itself to the vocals on record is much more prominent on stage as the passion takes over and during ‘Under Your Face’, the sheer force of the drumming started to jump out as a major player in the whole rejuvenation. A quick exchange of whispers with my professional drummer companion (moonlighting as AUK photographer for the evening) confirmed that Adam Dawson was playing a seventies Ludvig Super Classic, the same model as John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham used with Led Zeppelin.
The pace was slowed somewhat for the AOR driven anthemic ‘Eileen’, the ironic lyric at odds with the keyboard heavy soft rock as Cammarata sang, “Eileen, you got your hands around my throat”. Was the lady in question in the audience? One female in particular seemed particularly grateful to hear the song announced in a macabre sort of way. Answers on a postcard.
As for the setlist, Fabrizio stuck to the ‘Lights’ menu all evening, barring two songs, ‘Long Shadows’ from 2017’s ‘Of Shadows’ and classic show closer ‘La Llorona’ – Cammarata’s reinvention of the Mexican myth of the weeping woman. Tonight was about bringing a new sense of self-identity and positive creativity to his audience via the medium of his new album, a journey which includes inspiration from Spanish Flamenco music and a Greek Goddess. All this was in the mix, but the main factor was a change of awareness which Fabrizio Cammarata had the courage to identify and act on, resulting in this big new sound which has surprised – and delighted – his following across Europe, culminating in London here tonight.