Unplugged in Zermatt

When we are told that Frida from ABBA is in the audience and sitting just a few rows ahead of us, we clap and cheer. The marquee is not as intimate as you may expect for an acoustic concert, and Frida is not the star that the crowd has assembled for. After a few speeches (the Swiss are mad about honour speeches) the lights dim and the spine-tingling trills of a string quintet emerge from the darkness. Their whirlwind rendition is the perfect introduction to the star of the final night of Zermatt Unplugged: Aloe Blacc. He's been described as the "new voice of American soul" and found worldwide acclaim for his hit single "I need a dollar".

His performance does not disappoint. Accompanied for the first half of his set by the remarkable chamber quintet from Germany, the music is soothingly beautiful. Aloe Blacc injects political comment into his music and reminds us that when we vote, we must vote for the right politicians (I'm sensing Cameron would do well to avoid Blacc's concerts). After a while, he announces the fun is going to begin. A swift band change leads to the introduction of Blacc's Parisian soul band. Their voluptuous harmonies of guitars and keyboards announce the less acoustic part of the concert and sound like the glug-glugging of water in a basin. The crowd is standing up and dancing for most of the performance, singing along and enjoying the music. Outside, the ever-imposing presence of the Matterhorn looms above the marquee, adding magic to this ever-so-special music festival.

Earlier in the day, we had walked down the Gorner Gorge - a magical spot where you stumble across hamlets of wooden cottages, cross ski pistes resisting the season's end, and wind back into the village past glamorous hotels. Our hotel was relatively modest but we had a charming mezzanine, two balconies and a view of the Matterhorn. A snow storm heralded in Sunday and Baeckerei Fuchs provided a perfect spot to nibble carrot cake and sip green tea before the never-ending train journey back to Zurich.
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