Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Anthony Cable at the Cramphorn


Belgian singer and poet Jacques Brel died thirty years ago this month. Would he still be touring now, in his eightieth year ? Probably not. The call of the tropics, the fear of being a has-been.

Fortunately for us, his flame lives on in Anthony Cable's moving, masterly one-man show. Fifteen songs, many of them in the original French, with pithy insights into the man's life and loves.

Michael Roulston on piano, Igor Outkine the evocative accordeon. The show written and directed by Judith Paris.

The overture, and the irritating pretence of an overheard rehearsal, were soon over, and we were into Brel's world, the stage and the songs, marvellously interpreted, sensitively translated.

Ça va, Amsterdam, Madeleine, Jacky's Song, La Valse à Mille Temps and, in a poignant finale, La Cathédrale, from Brel's last-ever album.

Perhaps too much histrionics, but the mime and the gestures were a great help in understanding the carefully crafted lyrics, and the anger, the passion were still there in every number. Cable is too handsome, too polished, and his strong, expressive voice, unamplified, is not much like the original. But there were several instances where an inflection, an intonation, sparked a memory, caught a moment, and the soul of Brel was there in the spotlight.

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