Piaf and Brel The Impossible Concert at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Venue 53) is a solo concert by Canadian singer Melanie Gall that brings together those two iconic French singers – Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. Brel was of course Belgian, but I think the French people forgave him for that little oversight.
Piaf and Brel never met in real life, and their upbringings could not have been more different – Piaf born into poverty on the Parisian streets and Brel into a financially comfortable household in Brussels. The music that they both created of course came to represent the identity of a nation, and in the short space of an hour, Melanie does a great job in giving us a very abbreviated history of their lives and of course singing in style some of their classic songs.
For Piaf fans, the iconic classics are there “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” and “La Vie en Rose” and For Brel fans “Amsterdam” and “La Chanson des Vieux Amants”.
Being a Piaf and Brel concert we of course get two of the greatest love songs ever written – from Brel “Ne me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away) and from Piaf her heartbroken farewell to her only true love in life – boxer Marcel Cerdan - with “Hymne à L'amour”.
Melanie Gall in the short time available to her has a great show here that hopefully could be expanded for outside of the Fringe. Both Piaf and Brel are singers whom many people may think they know only a few songs from (if any), but once you hear them, you realise that you know so many more than you think.
For me, my introduction to their music was in the 1970s, particularly Jacques Brel when David Bowie recorded “Amsterdam” and other singers were performing new or adapted English lyrics over Brel’s music – Alex Harvey’s “Next” and Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun” immediately come to mind. Their music has been around us for so long now being performed by other artists, that it can be easy to forget at times where it all came from, and this show reminds us of that.
A perfect show for an afternoon away from it all.
Review by Tom King