Review: Piaf - The Songs @ RWCMD
It has been fifty years since Edith Piaf died.
She was one of France's greatest singers, a celebrity known the world over. Known as the Little Sparrow, her fine selection of cabaret songs are of the utmost Gallic charm. Like with opera, you don't need to know French to appreciate her work, but I'm sure it would be an added bonus.
For those of you haven't heard of her, a good introduction would be the film La Vie En Rose. It details most her life and gave Marion Cotillard an Oscar for her performance as the great singer. The first ever acting Oscar won for a performance in the French language.
In this show, Eve Loiseau graced the stage with many of her songs. She was accompanied by the violinist Fiona Barrow, and accordion player Murray Grainger. An intimate show that also featured a screen displaying photos of Paris and of Piaf herself. The live presentation alone was enough, since the screen grew a bit weary after some time. On the screen the whole evening was the word 'PIAF', in a faded yet apparent form. It remained visible even as the photos were passing by. It was as if we could we could not escape her powerful presence.
Loiseau gave us the story of Piaf's life. Her ups and downs. She dipped in and out of French. There were certainly some French speakers in the audience who laughed at a few of her jokes. Up in the balcony were a few of the singing students at the college who sang parts of one song, much to Loiseau's appreciation.
Listening to Piaf's songs is like meeting up with an old friend. Much is discussed. Emotions run high. But love and laughter simply won't go away. If you fancy hearing any of her songs, I recommend La Vie En Rose, Padam... Padam... and perhaps her most famous song of all, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.
You are bound to have heard this, since it's heard throughout Inception, played in Babe: Pig In The City and sampled in the French film, La Haine. In this show and La Vie En Rose the film, this song is kept for last and quite rightly. It's the best song to finish with. But I'm sure Loiseau gave an encore after this.
Loiseau was made to look like Piaf and if worked as well as it could. She sang and talked all night. In one of the songs she had a brief coughing fit yet finished the song, only after it ended did she grab a wine glass full of water. Both musicians also proved authentic, even if they might not be French.
I was surprised there was no program for the evening either. Just a piece of paper detailing the list of songs would have gone a long way. I asked the people in charge of the lighting for the evening. They rudely said there were no programmes.
A great evening, with CDs for sale afterwards. I was the first to leave the theatre and saw a large case filled with them yet thought I'd rather buy the genuine article when it comes to Piaf. But the evening's concert was pleasant and charming just like the real Piaf.
Related Article: Cardiff Young Persons Music Network Meeting