ONLY one man in the world could take a soulless arena not meant for the beauty of classical music and fill it with so much life, warmth and passion – Andrea Bocelli.
The Italian tenor has an almost rock star appeal to his army of admirers and it’s little wonder that he completely sold out 10,000 seats at the Echo Arena.
His persona stretched out across the audience – even up to the nose-bleed seats at the very back – and held them in his grasp before he’d even walked up to his microphone. Then, majestically, bellowing out a fabulous evening’s entertainment – starting with La Fanciulla del West Ch'ella mi creda.
Accompanied by the British Philharmonic Orchestra and backed by the marvellous Manchester Chamber Choir, Bocelli went on to powerfully perform classic-after-classic with various guests such as girl group Div4s, Bulgarian operatic soprano Svetla Vassileva and fine guitar duo Carisma.
Although solid in performance, the first half lacked the real sparkle that one comes to expect from the man whose singing voice has been likened to that of God himself by the Canadian songstress Celine Dion.
However, the saving grace was his duet with soprano Vassileva, who ensured that the Italian super-star raised his game during Puccini’s Tu, Tu, Amore? – the stage oozing with passion and romance.
Bocelli came back with a bang during the second half, more powerful than before, with buoyant numbers ranging from Tosti’s La Serenata to the Italian classic Vieni Sul Mar – accompanied by a slightly annoying overhead projection screen showing random vintage clips rather than the star man himself.
Alas, the evening was soon to come to its climax with a flurry of audience favourites such as O Sole Mio and the playfully-fun Funiculi, Funicula before an extended series of encores brought the house to its feet for numerous standing ovations.