Throughout the 1970s, Jane Birkin was partner and muse to the esteemed French singer, composer and provocateur Serge Gainsbourg.
The Arches, Glasgow
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Since his death in 1991, she has become custodian of his artistic legacy, though the Serge fans gathered for this Glasgow Music and Film Festival special needed little convincing of his idiosyncratic contribution to the pop canon.
Nevertheless, Birkin presented this labour of love, originally conceived to mark the 20th anniversary of his passing, with gracious and affectionate evangelism.
Boasting loose jazz rhythms, mute trumpet, lyrical violin and graceful piano playing from a superb Japanese band and the elegantly dishevelled Birkin intoning breathily in French and promenading through the audience at one point, this performance was a beat happening for sure.
Birkin was ideally placed to communicate Gainsbourg’s playful nature (as heard in the onomatopoeic lyrics of Comic Strip), his characterful phrasing and wordplay, rich romanticism and vulnerable balladry across a set encompassing early songs not even familiar to Birkin before she embarked on this tribute, right up to the last song he wrote, an exquisitely sorrowful lament.
Although there was no place for Je T’Aime, there was enough love in the room to spare.
The performance was preceded by a screening of Souvenirs Of Serge, a charming collage of Birkin’s Super 8 home-movie footage. This privileged peek at insouciant family picnics, walks in the park, holidays, kids, dogs, cats – and zoom shots of Birkin’s bum when Gainsbourg took the camera – painted a touching, intimate portrait of their life together.
As Birkin noted wistfully at one point: “He never left me, he was always by my side”.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west