Thursday, 12.04.2013: The Night of Poetry
Anyone who wants to get through a long festival night in good condition needs to tank up with good food, and is certainly spoilt for choice in Zermatt – the Gault-Millau density in the Valais mountain village is unique throughout Switzerland. The quickest way to refresh yourself is in the festival’s Foyer Marquee , which is both easy on your wallet and also quite exquisite in the preparation: the fast food comes from three of the total of 20 Gault-Millau restaurants in Zermatt.
In the meantime, Faela, six splendid guys from Sweden, certainly raised the temperature in the Foyer Marquee last night, dressed in retro-outfits with tweed jackets and knickerbockers that would have been familiar to the Matterhorn pioneer Edward Whymper. The wild mix of music from these men from the north, ranging from Latin-Sound to Balkan Beat, with accordion, fiddle and trumpet was quite a surprise – but, after the first ‘ojojojoj’ and ‘corazón’ at the latest, it became clear what was going down: the front men Michael Mino and Hugo Coronel (both aged 33) have South American roots.
Inside the main marquee, Festival President Thomas Sterchi (45) then commemorated a great musician and promoter of Zermatt Unplugged: Jon Lord, joint founder of Deep Purple and resident of Zermatt by choice, who passed away at the age of 71 on the 16th of July 2012. The former ABBA singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad (67), who is also a festival ambassador and Zermatter by choice, spoke a few words to the public, which included Lord’s daughters Amy and Sara, and spoke in moving words of her memories of Jon. “We are united by a great, deep friendship“, said Lyngstad, after a recording of her singing “The Sun Will Shine Again” had been played. “Jon composed this song for me in order to ease my own distress during a difficult period of my life. I miss him endlessly.“ Jon Lord was also the first main act to appear in the marquee at the very first Zermatt Unplugged in 2008, together with his band, Gemini. Jon’s presence could be felt once again while the recording was shown on the big screen – an impressive testimony to how the once wild British rock musician evolved into the gentle musical poet playing the large, black, grand piano.
A few minutes later, the stage belonged to the Bryan Ferry-Orchestra – a harmonious transition to the big-band formation of jazz in the Roaring Twenties. This era, together with the corresponding cover versions of his hits, has become Bryan Ferry’s latest passion. And this was why the former Roxy Music singer, who also hails from Britain, also allowed the orchestra to show their skills in six numbers. Only then did he himself appear, eagerly awaited by his public. It was certainly a Ladies’ Night – with many Anglophone ladies appearing in tailored outfits and pearl necklaces. The 67-year old Bryan Ferry, the son of a miner, who studied Fine Arts and was appointed a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elisabeth in 2011, and who has been married to Amanda (31) since 2012, also met all their expectations: slim and slender in a perfect black suit, with his smoky, deep voice with the precisely concerted orchestra in the background. “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”, “Stick Together” and “Hold on” were simply class. An evening of studied, understated style through and through.
The style continued in the Vernissage. Mando Diao from Sweden, with front man Gustav Norén and singer Linea, performed – and how: dressed in folksy Swedish white linen outfits, they sang exclusively in their mother tongue, for once quieter, more poetic and more haunting for ears more accustomed to Mando Diao rock numbers. The crowd was also large and the public enthusiastic. “En ung mor, Strövtag i hembygden“ (A young mother strolls through her neighbourhood)– no limits were set to fantasy, as to what this exactly meant. In any case, it was all about love, disappointed, fulfilled, missed, or perhaps even arriving soon. What else could it be about?
At a later hour, there was also the driving force of Célien Schneider (28), a talented, classically trained performer from Lower Valais with a Parisian address. He was discovered there by Universal Music in 2010, and now, in the bar of the Mont Cervin in Zermatt, he whacked the keys of the grand piano last night. Powerful and gentle at the same time, poetical and inspired. We would like to hear a lot more from this young man – and most certainly will.