I’d like to take a moment to remind you of the brilliance that is Brel. If you follow me on social media you’ll already have seen me going on and on about it but let me tell you now, it is magical.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show let me quickly explain it for you. Jacques Brel was a Belgian musician in the mid 20th century. He composed a number of beautiful songs which have been covered by nearly everyone (Nina Simone, David Bowie). Silo Theatre, directed by Michael Hurst gathered together Jon Toogood, Julia Deans, Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Tama Waipara to put on what I like to think of as an illustrated concert, the music of Jacques Brel sung by some of our greatest musical talent.
Silo’s Brel kicked off back in late 2012 at the Auckland Concert Chamber and has since toured the country, now they’re on at the James Cabaret for the New Zealand Festival and next Tuesday will play one night only at the Auckland Town Hall.
Since that first season I have become very familiar with the music and last night it was an absolute pleasure to watch them in action once more. I found that with each and every song I found myself saying to myself, ‘X performer is so wonderful!’ Whether it is Jon rocking the stage with Next, or Jennifer teasing the crowd in The Funeral Tango, Julia capturing everyone’s hearts in I Loved or Tama’s caramel smooth voice in Friend in Need. Each bring their own quality to a show and together they are stunning.
The James Cabaret is a great venue for the show, the stage space makes for what looks like a wide postcard snapshot, its intimate. And Sean Lynch’s lighting design and Jane Hakaraia’s set design look as good as ever (even though I’m highly biased towards these two, but regardless, go see it and tell me I’m wrong).
A year and a bit on I still stand by what I said that first season, but maybe it’s even better? I’ll put it bluntly, you’d be a fool to not try and see this show at least once.