Peter Straker’s Jacques Brel-Assembly 6pm


 Beginning with film footage of Belgian chansonnier realiste  Jacques Brel giving an interview wherein he makes controversial statements claiming-amongst other things- there is no such thing as talent and that whilst he has no desire to sing, his need to speak his dreams and thoughts is inescapable.

The darkness of the worlds his songs inhabit still resonate profoundly today and he is probably best known-in this country at least- through Scott Walker’s renditions, more than ably assisted by his mannered baritone croonings.,  David Bowie’s championing of his songs in his Ziggy phase, most especially his decision to sing a stunning prescient version of ‘My Death’ shortly before he killed off his glam doppelganger live onstage, also raised the profile of Brel considerably to several generations.  The stage and mood is therefore set for Peter Straker to take the stage, accompanied by his extremely capable and tight three piece band, with his own interpretations of several of Brel’s greatest songs.

And what songs there are to choose from. ‘Amsterdam’, ‘Jackie’, ‘Carousel’, ‘Next’, ‘My Death’, ‘Mathilda’ and a paean to his Belgian origins ‘The Flatland’ all make a more than welcome appearance. The demi-monde the songs inhabit are not only apparent in the lyrics but in the narrative thread of the spoken interludes wherein Straker-as Brel- tells us of his love for cigarettes, alcohol and sex.

The simplicity of the musical arrangements and Straker’s onstage charisma and evident belief in what he is singing raise this to being a very worthwhile show indeed. If it has one fault it is that Straker brings nothing new to the material- and Scott Walker’s versions will always remain the definitive ones in my opinion- but by the same token why should he want to when the songs continue to speak for themselves


    • Geraldine Menzies
    • August 21st, 2012

    Peter Straker raised the bar way beyond Bowie and Scott Walker standing ovations tonight at Assembly Hall from every member of the audience. Straker gave one of the most astonishing charismatic performances of his life. a privilege to be in the audience.

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