Zermatt Unplugged invites itself to the Kaufleuten in Zürich for a special three day acoustic festival. I picked Friday 28 October 2016, which among others, hosted Andrea Bignasca and Asaf Avidan.
The rooms of the Kaufleuten, and mainly the Lounge, are decorated as to convey the Zermatt fancy après-ski atmosphere, with ancient skis, poles and sheep skins hanged on the walls. The inevitable smell of mulled wine is in the air.
19:00-19:30 Long Tall Jefferson, Lounge
Long Tall Jefferson’s music is the perfect music to chill in the lounge zone. His voice caresses the ears and the soft notes of his guitar set in the air easily. His way of singing ranges in between spoken and sung poetry, it is rather slow but effective. None of the listeners is standing, everybody is sitting and chilling listening to his delicate chords and arpeggio which sometimes recall Ben Howard’s music.
20:45-21:50 Andrea Bignasca, Lounge
Andrea Bignasca is a rock artist from Ticino who has an incredible energy live. The audience is in awe for him from the very start and the Lounge is packed with people. Andrea Bignasca is accompanied on stage by his band composed by three musicians: Gian Andrea Costa (bass), Giacomo Reggiani (drums) and Oliver Illi (keyboard). Although the set is acoustic, hence the name Zermatt Unplugged, his concert certainly bursts in all its rock energy.
Andrea Bignasca plays songs taken from his debut album Gone (2015), an album which has a strong emotional charge as it is dedicated to his mother who passed away in 2011. It is also an album which, live, he plays with an impressive passion and care, giving everything and engaging his band and the audience in the process. His powerful voice gives you the chills and leads you among the mysterious meanders of folk-rock with a touch of blues here and there. The print of the deep South can also be heard in his music, reminding at times Kings of Leon.
“Lump in my throat” is one of the most remarkable songs in the album and is its single, both the lyrics and the music intertwine creating a touching tune with a rock energy. Andrea Bignasca incites the audience to sing along to “Roll out Mama”, a tune in which the folk roots of his music are even more highlighted. An incredible gig for him and his band with a definitely contagious energy!
10:15pm-11:25pm Asaf Avidan, Festsaal
I missed the beginning of the concert as I was interviewing Andrea Bignasca. As soon as I enter the Festsaal I’m struck by Asaf Avidan’s voice it has something special I have never heard before. His voice sounds rather feminine but there is something more than that which I can’t quite describe.
Asaf Avidan for the occasion plays a solo gig, for a couple of songs it is just him and his guitar which he plays with extreme care and beauty, picking the chords in an impressive way and rapidly. Throughout the show he takes time to show off his impressively extended voice by holding notes for a long time and creating sounds with his mouth.
Asaf Avidan is definitely multi-instrumentalist and very creative, at some point he says “This is when nobody told me this was an unplugged festival” and starts recording various sounds with different kind of small instruments like bells and such. In the mean time he starts singing over the sounds and what he creates is an outstanding melody and a song which seems made by much more than one person. For one song he wears a bells bracelet on his foot and sings as he moves his foot to the rhythm.
At one point during the show he takes a pause to talk to the audience. He recounts an anecdote about a French journalist of La Liberté comparing his voice to a “wounded cat”. He then tells the audience he likes this comparison because it made him think about the crash between a car and a cat and made him realize that he is mortal, just like the cat is. After that, he plays his most well known song “One Day (Reckoning Song)”, which is linked to the anecdote he just told. The version he plays is totally different than the remix that you could hear everywhere a few years ago. He in fact plays an amazing acoustic version of it, pretty slow and focused on every note he plays and every word he utters.
An eclectic artist who, with his voice and original way of playing, gave the audience a proper treat! And too bad this was a festival, otherwise, as he said, he would have played for two hours.
Zermatt Unplugged Kaufleuten was filled with lots of emotions conveyed by the acoustic sets, a great Autumn festival!