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Live review

Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg via Japan Live 

Cadogan Hall

added: 3 Feb 2013 // gig date: 31 Jan 2013
reviewer: Andy Snipper

Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg via Japan Live - Cadogan Hall - Printable version
The concert opened with the sight of Jane Birkin on her own, spot lit and softly pouring out the words to ‘Requiem Pour Un Con’ (Requiem for an Ass or Requiem for a Jerk depending on your view) and in that moment you had the incredible strengths and minor weaknesses of this show in a single image.
This was brilliantly theatrical and poetic but musically – well, she is an actress first and foremost.

Gradually she brought the band into play and they showed what great musicians can bring to the words of Serge Gainsbourg and the show really was a celebration of the poetry of Gainsbourg.
Birkin had a massive smile on her face for the whole show and the love and emotion she has for her erstwhile mentor was clear. The love that her audience had for her and for the words of Gainsbourg came as more of a surprise.
The show was conceived around two years ago at the 20th anniversary of Gainsbourg’s death and Birkin added the element of the Japanese musicians after witnessing some of the horrors following the earthquake and Tsunami. They were simply magnificent but Birkin was imperious.

Some of the songs were familiar – the delightful ‘Comic Strip’ which featured violinist Hoshiko Yamane singing the scatty tag line and performing it, as Birkin told us better than she could or even Brigitte Bardot, or ‘Ah Melody’ or the divine ‘Ballade De Johnny Jane’ – while others were a surprise even to Birkin – ‘Les Amours Perdues’ – but all have their charms and idiosyncrasies and were presented with love and no shortage of skill.

This was an evening to celebrate the love that Birkin obviously holds for Gainsbourg but it also gave us, the audience, an opportunity to share that emotion. If the opportunity comes around again take it – this was special.

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4 stars

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