Frizzi 2 Fulci at The Opera House: Recap

October 12, 2015 | By

After two concerts featuring his music from Lucio Fulci films, Fabio Frizzi brought his tribute concert Frizzi 2 Fulci to Toronto as part of his first North American tour, performing at The Opera House this past Thursday October 8th.



The turnout was more modest than the Goblin show that appeared at TOH back in 2013, but there was no doubt the crowd was appreciative and delighted to see this maestro of mayhem presenting themes and suites from some of the grisliest horror films of the seventies and eighties.

The seven member band featured Frizzi doubling as acoustic guitarist / keyboardist, an electric guitarist, bass guitarist, drummer, a second acoustic guitarist, a second keyboardist / woodwind player, and a vocalist.

Frizzi also called upon Toronto-based Maurizio Guarini, an old friend / co-founding member of Goblin to sit in on a pair of pieces. As composer pointed out to the audience, this marked the first time the two had played together in nearly 40 years, as they’d collaborated on a few scores as co-composers and musicians, including Perché si uccidono (1976).

Guarini played keyboards on two pieces, and the overall presentation of the F2F programme was almost identical to the U.K. concerts,  with a slightly different order of pieces and content. The original production featured a chamber quartet and larger vocal troupe, and as evidenced by the 2-CD set from Beat Records, Frizzi 2 Fulci Live at Union Chapel, the mood was more formal, whereas the North American makeup is more rock oriented, offering a harder tempo and more aggressive drums and bass.

The trade-off at TOH was volume for clear fidelity – the venue can handle pounding bass and percussion, but a cluster of strong highs do distort when their volume is pushed to the limit in the modest-sized venue. Yeah, it’s a rock concert, but F2F’s programme features suites that are more formal, many flowing from intro themes to death montages, and interludes of softer components that kind of mandate a less robust approach to bring out the nuances and details in Frizzi’s impeccable orchestrations.

Those wanting volume got the power of the percussion and electric bass, with versions of the Zombi (1979), City of the Living Dead (1980), and Contraband (1980) themes coming off much stronger than the Union Chapel recording. Frizzi also drifted a bit from the tribute format and included some new material in the concert’s last half hour, which was in tune with the eclectic nature of the concert’s programme.

Like a classic album, cues not only alternated from fast to slow, but gentle to aggressive, with a section of vocal pieces from Fulci films showing Frizzi’s folk side, and his versatility in tackling any genre. The suite of songs showed Frizzi’s lighter but no less intricate scoring style, and he sung the lead vocals in each piece.

The new material that appeared at the concert’s end was still horror-related, and featured a suite of themes from several short films – Beware of Darkness (2010), The Cold Eyes of Death (2013), Violets Bloom at an Empty Grave (2014), and Saint Frankenstein (2015) – plus a pounding rendition of the synth-heavy Lamberto Bava’s Blastfighter (1984).

Frizzi used his Fulci catalogue to showcase his versatility as a composer, orchestrator, and lyricist, and the strength of his writing has ensured his work will have ever-lasting appeal. City of the Living Dead may have a pulsing main theme, but there’s a gorgeous midsection that’s beautifully tragic, with lovely harmonic s coming from electric guitar and vocals. The piece is also reflective of Frizzi’s ease in blending traditional orchestral elements with rock, a bit of jazz, or folk. While the Union Chapel concert features a more formal performance of the programme, it captures some of the instrumental details that were a little blurry at TOH.

As an elder statesman of horror scoring, Frizzi was very comfortable on stage with a much younger but very able band, and his comportment set the tone for the evening – calling the audience friends knocked the concert from something formal to an intimate and cozy, aided by often subdued lighting design.

Besides Guarini’s joining the band for two sets, other highlights include just watching Frizzi performing his beloved music, the band’s stellar vocalist who tackled some truly aggressive sections with expertly moderated power, and several montages that  synchronized Fulci’s insanely gory killings and fetishistic boring into skulls and eyeballs with Frizzi’s murder music.  (Also palpable was the composer’s sense of humour for Fulci’s over-the-top trickling blood & spewing guts.)

The piece de resistance was not Zombi’s wood-into-the-eye-socket montage but Cat in the Brain (1990), where Fulci plays a director going bonkers from nightmares and a brain-licking cat puppet. Frizzi’s main theme features an array of notes that scatter outward like a demented dance before returning to their starting point for another cycle. A suite of themes from The Beyond was equally delicious, and similarly showcased Frizzi’s gift for percussive urban grooves, delicate instrumentation (flute, acoustic guitar), and a bit of blues that still delivered a soothing prog-rock sound.

For more info on the North American tour of Frizzi 2 Fulci, visit the event’s Facebook page and the composer’s Twitter feed.

To hear Fabio Frizzi discuss his 2013 and 2014 concerts, scoring gory sequences for Lucio Fulci, unreleased Fulci scores, restoring Contraband for CD, and the brilliance of Italian sound engineers of the 1970s and 1980s, check out my podcasts on iTunes, Libsyn, and  YouTube.

Coming next: soundtrack reviews, and reviews of two film-centric docs – Dark Star: H. R. Giger’s World (2014), and Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014).




Mark R. Hasan, Editor



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