Twenty years ago, entertainment impresario Simon Cowell formed Il Divo for Sony Records. They were one of the first classical cross-over groups and are still the most popular. Along the way, they’ve sold millions of albums, have had gold and platinum hits in over 30 countries, and filled concert halls across the world.
Last week, they ended their Australian tour with a concert at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. The show began with the singing ‘Italian Stallion’ Patrizio Buanne filling the auditorium with his huge voice and undeniable charm. He was funny, he was flirty, and he could sing! Buanne teased the audience with hints of a solo show coming to Adelaide in May next year.
After interval, it was time for the main event. Accompanied by a 4-piece backing band and on-stage orchestra, Il Divo descended the stepped stage to excited applause.
Three members of Il Divo are from that original group: Urs Buhler (Switzerland), Sebastien Izambard (France), and David Miller (USA) have now been joined by American baritone Steven LaBrie, replacing Spanish baritone Carlos Marin who died from Covid in December 2021. The last song of the evening was dedicated as a memorial to Marin. I think it’s fair to say that new boy Steven LaBrie stole the show at every turn with his rich vocals and commanding stage presence.
Il Divo fans know exactly what to expect and they were not disappointed. They take well-known songs, usually timeless ballads or classic pop anthems, and then sing them in sexy-sounding Italian or Spanish. The classic Stevie Wonder hit ‘For Once in My Life’ was one of the few sung in English. And they did a little synchronised dancing for ‘My Girl’, channelling the smooth moves of The Temptations. There was even a very smooth version of ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story.
After the difficulties of the last few years globally, and the loss of their dear friend Carlos Marin, Il Divo say they built the A New Day Tour around “songs of positivity and inspiration”. This included a rousing rendition of the contemporary Christian anthem ‘You Raise Me Up’. And they won quite a few hearts in the audience when they encouraged the ladies to come forward and take a red rose.
Il Divo are constantly touring – they’re off to Asia for the rest of November and then a series of dates in the US before Christmas – so it was wonderful that they could include Adelaide in their world tour.