Charles Aznavour’s 90th Birthday at the Royal Albert Hall

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I’m going to tell you the truth, dear readers. First I wrote what would have been qualified as no less than a horrid review of Mr Aznavour’s English birthday concert. I thought I would possess what it takes to publish it, yet in reality I couldn’t.

Somehow a voice out from the depth of my thoughts would keep bellowing against my heart every time I was being convinced I should publish that paper once and for all. Because it was mercilessly unfair, like unfair would be to bash any 90 year old for his not being into his 40’s. Mystically enough, Charles Aznavour talks about how good one’s 20’s can be. How can’t it be, looking back at them at the dusk of a lifetime?

It took a month to get to reassess my stance and axe another fresh chop at what were mere recollections by then.
After all, nostalgia acts must be taken for what they are, and I now believe Monsieur Aznavour, probably in the world, is the best in this business.

Brushed and groomed with the most innocent of mildnesses, his songs of souvenir impersonate preoccupations of an era belonging to people about to disappear from the living in the next decade. What love, life, youth, and adulthood meant yesterday etched on Charles Aznavour’s wrinkly cheeks and scrolled on prompters – which I’m not sure were as necessary to him as to this young and desperate man lost under the pouring rain:

(“An way-zay ba gee on… and no one left to blame.”)

Following a first part unfortunately unannounced, and to which I could hardly gather names or catch a known tune, the show was a collection of Aznavour’s career most noticeable hits both from France and the UK, for it was rather obvious the crowd split, yet not factually in the venue, into the French expatriate community, and the real deal English population. C’est l’entente cordiale! said our host. I’m sorry if the English audience may have felt hijacked by those packs of invasive froggies – the richest and those who came here to pay GB some tax, I believe. This could surely lead to some awkward moments, for one part of the crowd would know the tune at every time. However I don’t think I hurt anyone so as to tread out of their beaten tracks, thence learn Aznavour’s multiple talents in one tongue or the other.
Aznavour is a Titan with nothing else left to prove. He has kept warmth and colour in his voice and the impact of years is anything but a toned varnish to his music.

(embarrassing dead voice below)

Thence it’s only a regret to behold his performance at the Albert Hall, for which by all means is hard to argue is a venue absolutely misfit for any type of amplified music. Snare drums and cymbals could do nothing else but echo against the opposite half moon, bounce back and cause damage to each and every song.

But that’s alright, since I believe few in the audience would care more than the classic architecture and artwork offers to them in comparison. Aznavour’s night, carried aloft by a handful of background musicians (nine of them!), was a triumph and with a religiously predisposed audience, nothing could argue against that.

It was hard not to chuckle when after wiping the sweat off his hands on a towel white as a dove, Aznavour recreated a Suskind’s Perfume moment, throwing the thing in a fashion so as to leave a pack of grannies and a bald, ageing banker struggle for it with unfathomed vigour. At the end, I was a little amused to watch those cute elderlies thronging afore, sincere in their expectations of an encore. Don’t call me mean; candids enjoy their fav’ songwriter’s poetry.

I wonder if that bathroom towel stands upon a wall behind glass, by now?

(what an accent)

Author: Francois Mauld d'Aymee

Francois trains to become a classical singer at the same time he runs a tutoring company in Central London. He loves opera as much as any other kind of classical music, never missing an occasion to attend the great performances.