What Goblin was to Dario Argento, Fabio Frizzi was to Lucio Fulci - necessary. The success of Fulci’s household horror movies, many of which have become die-hard classics in the 20 odd years since he has passed, has been attributed not only to their graphic visceral effects but Frizzi’s animated scores that helped bring his visions to life.
Thanks to Death Waltz Recording Company and Paint It Black, Frizzi - Fulci’s right-hand music man and thus composer behind some of horror’s most beloved scores - made his UK debut on Halloween (Thurs 31st) to play a live compilation of his proudest works, complemented by a projection of the corresponding movie’s visuals, to a packed audience of genre fanatics. Officially titled ‘Fabio 2 Frizzi’, the show’s chilling setting in Union Chapel (Islington, London) couldn’t have been more atmospherically fitting than a field full of zombies.
For Frizzi, his mission for this momentous occasion was to bring his music back to life, “just like the characters in so many Lucio Fulci movies.”
Aptly beginning his set with the theme from his first collaborative movie with Fulci in 1978, Spaghetti Western Silver Saddle, he then paused for an overwhelmingly positive reception before turning back the calendar pages a few years to his very first years as a composer, the days when, as he rightfully professed, “music and cinema were better than today”.
In the early 70s Frizzi formed a trio with musicians Vince Tempera and Franco Bixio with the collective aim to produce scores for film and television. One of their numerous low-budget Italian movie scores was in 1975 for Spaghetti Western Four of the Apocalypse, which Frizzi and his orchestra reveled in revisiting to its London audience. It was the movie where Fulci and Frizzi first met. And the rest really is history.
The melodic retro pop of his spaghetti western scores almost made me forget about the initial pull of the night. But soon enough, those well-acquainted dark, electric vibes of scores from City of the Living Dead, Contraband, The Psychic and Zombie Flesh Eaters pulsated around the church, the latter receiving perhaps the biggest reaction as its chiming musicality echoed around the hall until its very last dramatic drum beat.
The master flitted between singing, playing guitar and composing his 7-piece band and F2F Orchestra, of which compiled a superb entourage of violinists, guitarists, keyboards, percussionists and a breathtaking female vocalist who drew out every note of City of the Living Dead with perfection. Their skill and energy was inspirational, and an enthusiastic crowd did everything to make them aware of it. Everyone contributing to the ambience was having a good time.
As the night closed in, his beautiful rendition of Nina Rota’s theme to Frederico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973) brought a heartfelt sting to watery eyes, succeeding to remind us not only of his great contribution to the horror genre but also his doubtless and worthy status as one of our greatest composers.
And Frizzi hasn’t only spent the last few years rehearsing the songs he wrote two to three decades ago; two newer pieces revealed the connoisseur hasn’t lost his touch. If there was reason to buy the vinyl records released by Death Waltz, having these two tracks was as good as any.
An encore was inevitable - not only due to the continuous support of the crowd and the good-spirited ensemble, but because something very crucial was missing. Frizzi rhetorically questioned what had so far been absent in the set, and the audience responded to his good-humoured jive with a few laughs and shout-outs. On that note, away they went with what many had been so desperately waiting to hear - The Beyond. And true to say it was beyond (‘scuse the pun) what I’d ever imagined. Worth the wait.
A standing ovation applauded everyone involved and greeted a beaming Frizzi with both eyes full of gratitude. Drinks in the bar upstairs allowed time for goggling at fancy dress efforts and washing down the aftermath adrenalin.
And there you have it, a Halloween that will be hard, maybe even impossible, to beat.