Rubbish Music: Carousel The Songs of Jacques Brel

An oddly shambolic concert took place at the Barbican tonight in what was supposed to be a show to highlight the music of Jaques Brel and his ongoing influence on musicians. Instead we had a band that drowned out the singers, half the singers sounding as if they had spent a bit too long at the bar, and a concert that looked and sounded like it needed to have a tech run and a rehearsal.

Some people loved this show and obviously had an affinity to the performers. I suspect however they would have been happy for them to read from the phone book. It wasn't all bad either, but when half the performances were so inept, many of those who were more interested in the music of Brel voted with their feet and left at intermission. Some of us stayed to see if it got better, but only after a stiff drink at the bar...

Part of what is amazing about Brel's music is its nuances and particularly its lyrics. But when you pump up the volume or get a performances that are just loud, noisy and atonal it all gets a bit lost. Perhaps if it was an evening of performance art that might have been a different matter and we all could have come ready to wail for the recently deceased and put up with all that self-indulgence.

The Barbican website playing clips of Brel only helps to underscore how it should have been performed so much better. Brel's influence wasn't so much on display as the a general contempt for the audience. Maybe Friday's performance at Warwick Arts Theatre will be better. I couldn't imagine it could be any worse...


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