Zucchero and Special Guests

Zucchero Fornaciari may be the most famous Italian rock star you’ve never heard of, but he’s well worth listening to, has sold 50 million albums in his career, and has collaborated with an almost surreally broad range of musicians. On April 23, he is playing the Theater at Madison Square Garden, where he will be joined onstage by Sting, Nile Rodgers, Sam Moore of Sam & Dave, and Dolores O’Riordan of the Cranberries. In the past, he has collaborated with Iggy Pop, Luciano Pavarotti, and Ennio Morricone. And yet the one Zucchero hit that garnered attention in the English-speaking market seems to be “Senza una donna,” produced in a duet music video with Paul Young.

He is spectacularly successful in Italy, and able to fill halls anywhere in the world. But it may be that there is something deeply untranslatable about Zucchero’s lyrics. He comes from a tradition of opera and Roman Catholicism. The track that gave the title to Zucchero’s biggest selling album, Spirito DiVino, begins with unmistakably Christological lyrics: “Perché papà, papà perché/ il sangue non mi va in vino/ Perché papà, papà perché/ non ho uno Spirito DiVino.” The poetry and cadence is uniquely Italian, but it means roughly: “Why, papa, papa, why / won’t the blood turn to wine for me / Why, papa, papa, why / do I lack a divine spirit.” The song progresses from simple ballad to thundering power rock anthem, but the lyrics are heartbreaking: “In what city, in what bar did I first forsake you?” It’s a distant echo in English, but in Italian he brings the wine and the blood to the party.

A gifted musician with an idiosyncratic persona (a blend of four parts Joe Cocker to one part Dr. John, largely for the sunglasses and hats), Zucchero just doesn’t seem to electrify the American music audience the way he does the Italians. He is, in short, a musician’s musician in this country. But it’s a show you shouldn’t miss.

For more information and tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.

Category: Music
The Theater at Madison Square Garden
4 Pennsylvania Plaza,
New York, NY