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Fabio Frizzi: The Beyond Composer’s Cut Tour (review)

Fabio Frizzi brings his soundtrack collaborations with director Lucio Fulci to life in The Beyond Composer’s Cut Tour.

Sinister sounds erupted from the Seven Gateways to Hell on Monday night, evoked by cult composer Fabio Frizzi during a performance at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. Currently touring the U.S. to promote “The Beyond Composer’s Cut” (a soundtrack album featuring the complete score for the film), Frizzi led his backup band in performances culled exclusively from collaborations with late director Lucio Fulci, including such memorably shocking exercises in anarchic terror as Zombie 2City of the Living Dead, House by the Cemetery, and of course The Beyond.

The show was divided into two sets. The first was a smorgasbord of music cues from Fulci films; the second was a live-to-film performance of Frizzi’s “composer’s cut” for The Beyond. Throughout, Frizzi sat behind his keyboard, playing, conducting, sometimes strumming an acoustic guitar, and at one point even singing. More a composer than a performer, Frizzi relied on a small rock ensemble to provide virtuoso accompaniment: the six-piece band included two electric guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, and a keyboardist who doubled on flute and harmonica (unlike previous Frizzi tours, there was no female vocalist). Their combined efforts yielded an engaging performance that cast a spell over the devoted fans in attendance.

Fabio Frizzi 2019 U.S. Tour Review: Frizzi 2 Fulci

The show began with “Frizzi 2 Fulci,” the label applied to a set of cues from Fulci films that Frizzi has been performing live for the past six years. The fifty-minute set alternated between ambitious prog-rock, mesmerizing electronics, and catchy funk, with arrangements that transformed the atmospheric soundtrack work into fist-pumping rock anthems bristling with electrifying life.

Fabio Frizzie The Beyond Composer's Cut Tour Review
Fabio Frizzi (seated behind his Nord Electro 4 keyboard)

In texture if not melody, the results were reminiscent of live performances by other soundtrack artists such as Tangerine Dream (The Keep) and Goblin (Suspiria). The latter is hardly surprising, since Frizzi emerged from the same milieu as the Italian pro-rock group responsible for scoring Deep Red and Dawn of the Dead; he even collaborated with members of Goblin on music that eventually appeared in the obscure 1976 film Perché Si Uccidono. The difference between Fulci’s performance at the Fonda Theatre on Monday night and that of Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin at the Palace last October is that, in the latter case, music served as a vehicle for Simonetti’s virtuoso keyboard flourishes. “Frizzi 2 Fulci” is really about showcasing Frizzi’s composing skills, with arrangements and performances designed to appeal to a live audience.

Performed virtually non-stop, “Frizzi 2 Fulci” may have left all but hardcore fans scrambling to recall exactly what they were hearing – unlike previous shows, there were no clips to show whether you were hearing the main title music from Zombie 2 or the virtually identical (but not quite) “Mystery’s Apotheosis” from City of the Living Dead – and Frizzi didn’t slow the momentum down with explanations. Fortunately, the trade-off was worthwhile. The uninterrupted performance offered a kaleidoscope of soundscapes that stood on their own as music, regardless of their cinematic origins.

Fabio Frizzi 2019 U.S. Tour Review: The Beyond Composer’s Cut Live To Film

Fabio Frizzi The Beyond Composer's Cut soundtrack albumAfter a brief intermission, Frizzi and company returned for the second half (well, second two-thirds) of the show, performing the “Composer’s Cut” of Frizzi’s music in synch with a screening of Fulci’s 1981 cult horror film, The Beyond (a.k.a., L’aldilà). Frizzi warned that this section would be more “intimate”; the film created a sort of barrier between the audience and the musicians, who all took seats to perform careful renditions of the score, instead of strutting around like rock stars.

We’re still somewhat dubious about live-to-film performances (see our previous reactions here and here), but The Beyond Composer’s Cut is a rather different animal. Frizzi’s recent album compiles extensive music not used in the film, and the live arrangements are radically different from soundtrack recordings. Though Frizzi’s work was often infused with electronics (such as the moody synthesizer line played over a drum machine in Zombie 2), his score for The Beyond relied heavily on acoustic instruments. Modern synthesizers and digital samplers can recreate much of that sound on stage, but the live “Composer’s Cut” performance embraces the power of the available electric guitars, bass, and drums. There was no attempt to turn this portion of the performance into a rock concert; nevertheless, hearing the music performed live was a completely different experience from simply watching the film with its soundtrack intact.

The Fonda Theatre wall decoration
We have no idea why this creepy face is painted on the wall of the Fonda Theatre, but those blank eyes are straight out of THE BEYOND.

In fact, there is so much more music in the “Composer’s Cut” that it renders The Beyond as virtually a feature-length music video, frequently drowning out the sound effects and dialogue (not necessarily a great loss, especially for fans who have seen the film many times before). Overall, we still think that The Beyond works best as a movie when heard with its original soundtrack, but as a concert experience, the gruesome set pieces (including acid baths, spiders eating faces, and multiple gouged eyes) take on a strange life of their own, playing like beloved “greatest hits” delivered with additional gusto thanks to the live music. And, if anything, the film’s nihilistic ending is even more devastating when the music is so loud you can feel it in your bones instead of just hearing it in your ears.

After the film’s closing credits faded out, Frizzi and company performed an encore, reprising the music from the film’s infamous tarantula scene. Freed from the constraints of synching to the film, the band reverted to rock-concert mode, delivering a high-energy performance that ended the show on a (figurative) high note.

Fabio Frizzi 2019 U.S. Tour Review: Conclusion

Though Fabio Frizzi doesn’t have quite the stature of Ennio Morricone or the cult cache of Goblin, his back catalog includes more than enough macabre music to fill the Seven Gateways of Hell. Fans of horror movies and/or soundtrack music will be thrilled by “The Beyond Composer’s Cut Tour,” but Frizzi’s work is truly good enough to deserve a wider audience. It’s not exactly darkwave, but anyone interested in ambitious instrumental music with dark and dramatic undertones should enjoy this mesmerizing excursion into a sinister “sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored.”

Fabio Frizzie: The Beyond Composer's Cut Tour Rating
  • Frizzi 2 Fulci
  • Beyond Composer's Cut Live

Bottom Line

With live performances of soundtrack music from the films of Lucio Fulci, Fabio Frizzi and his backup band cast an auditory spell over their audience, taking them on a mesmerizing journey into the “sea of darkness, and all therein that may be explored.”

Frizzi continues “The Beyond Composer’s Cut Tour” with engagements on the following dates:

12/10/2019 San Francisco CA @ The Chapel
12/11/2019 Portland OR @ Hollywood Theatre
12/12/2019 Seattle WA @ Fremont Abbey
12/15/2019 Denver CO @ Bluebird Theatre
12/17/2019 Little Rock AR @ Vinos
12/18/2019 Jacksonville FL @ Sun-Ray Cinema
12/19/2019 West Palm Beach FL @ Kelsey Theatre
12/20/2019 Atlanta GA @ Masquerade

More information about the tour is available at Freeman Promotions.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.