With music nowadays moving so fast between radio, TV, and online streaming, it is easy to get lost among the endless music choices and, above all, it is easy to lose really good artists. In my case, before last Wednesday, Jack Savoretti was little more than a stranger, a name that I had heard fleetingly a few times. After the concert at ‘O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (one of the finest concert halls in London, with its Victorian decorations and the theater concept, I could only blame myself.
Everything starts, as in the best love stories, by accident. A day off, boredom, and above all desire to attend a gig, lead me to a mild late winter Wednesday show. Jack Savoretti at ‘O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire was almost sold out and, as the Anglo-Italian singer said during the show, is a great satisfaction for someone who was working in the cafe “just on the corner,” wondering “how to get on stage at the Shepherds Bush Empire,” and that’s where I realize that this won’t be just a concert, but something more, something unexpected.
As Savoretti takes the stage, the nearly two thousand people crowding the hall and balconies, are magnetically captured by him and his band. Although the singer is usually accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, for this tour, promoting his brand new album Written in Scars, he shares the stage with a four-piece band: electric guitar, bass, keys and drums.
The lights go down, then in a flash of blues, reds and oranges, Savoretti starts singing. His strong, warm voice complements his already charming look. He has a voice that reminds me of the early Bruce Springsteen and Will Hoge (one of my favorite modern songwriters, unfortunately almost unknown in Europe) and from the very first songs puts the room and myself on fire.
Maybe my unknowing helped me to better appreciate the concert, in which each song is a surprise and every lyric a discovery. Savoretti jokes with the audience, his past in London and introduces his songs with a short story (funny note, his “Tie me down” is not about Fifty Shades of Grey, he assures the audience). He commands the stage in a histrionic way. He sings and plays very well, but really gives his best alone on stage, with a white light to illuminate the emptiness around him.
His set includes “Dreamers” and “Once upon the Street” as well as a reprise of “Ring of Fire” with a firm tone and warm, but gentle, reinterpretation. And, like a pearl just drawn from the depths, gives the public an unreleased song by Bob Dylan, “Nobody ‘kept you,” written by the American legend back in the days when he used to live in England, Savoretti added “this song saved my life”. The band gets back on stage performing “Come shine a light”, which eventually turned into a long and enthralling final jam.
I leave the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in ecstasy, not just for the show itself, but for the pleasure of discovery being as unexpected as fantastic.
Vincent is a contributor for Nanobot Rock. He can be found exploring the cultures and music of the world.