Like a particularly favoured old sofa which hasn’t yet outstayed its welcome, multinational pop-opera supergroup Il Divo are comfortable and relaxing, and before you know it they’ve been a fixture of your life for nearly 15 years.
Il Divo, Edinburgh Castle ***
Formed by Simon Cowell in 2004, the quartet – Carlos Marin of Spain, Urs Buhler of Switzerland, the Frenchman Sebastien Izambard and the American David Miller – show no sign of losing the affections of their mixed-age fans, even though a new album of theirs no longer guarantees the same multi-platinum transatlantic success.
Ageing is a factor in the easy rapport the quartet have with their crowd, particularly in Marin’s between-song chat; his role appears to be that of the lothario of the group, with a bit of self-consciously cringeworthy seduction patter before his solo on the Spanish standard Granada, his version most influenced by that of Mario Lanza. Yet he also talks of visiting his doctor and being told to slow down, which is the kind of conversation an artist makes when they’re comfortable in the presence of an audience who have grown with them over the years.
Despite their somewhat stagey presentation as four bow-tied Pierce Brosnans with impressive lung capacity and a small troupe of backing dancers, however, the group delivered a smooth and charismatic set which made best use of their various vocal properties together and apart, and also blended the traditional and the contemporary in equal measure.
They bounced from John Legend’s All of Me to Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender, taking in translated versions of Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody and Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. Despite the formal nature of the show, it was the definition of a crowd-pleaser.