Jane Birkin Sings at the Barbican on 9th November 2013



I first met Jane Birkin in 1994 when I was working with Gloria Hunniford on a week long programme on France and the French language aired by BBC Radio 2. The Friday programme was broadcast live from Fontainebleau and Birkin was one of the guests. Before the actual show a local journalist and I interviewed her. This is when I discovered a person far different from the public image and reputation she had at the time. She seems kind and caring devoting a lot of her time to good causes, including helping drug addicts break out of the habit. Since then she has become even more politically active. This is also reflected of course in some of her Chansons and Birkin is now very much "une chanteuse engagée", even though the expression seems to be out of fashion nowadays.



Daniel Pageon and Jane Birkin - 1994-BW


Since then, I have seen here in a couple of shows culminating in last night Arabesque at the Barbican, I had missed here first appearance there in 2003.





The Barbican Hall is a very large venue and it was almost full of devoted fans, but also no doubts new comers as some of the spectators were pretty young. Jane was supported all the way through by an admiring audience and it all culminated in a standing ovation lasting over 10 minutes.



Djamel Benyelles re-orchestrated the Serge Gainsbourg Chansons to terrific effects. Not only was the North African influence very strong, but it also became very quickly obvious that it is highly listenable and pleasurable to a Western audience. The violin performed played by Benyelles not only brought along the mystery of the Orient, but in my ears certainly, a flavour of the Hungarian traditional folk music known as Czardas.


The Evening Standard published a review on 1st Feberuary 2013 about this very show: Click Here



Arabesque was first performed at the turn of the century and the show has been done almost 400 times if 35 countries to date.

Here are some links to Reviews published since then.


AllMusic published a review by Thom Jurek in 2002. Click Here to read it. Click Here to read it.

The Guardian published an article on Birkin performance at the Barbican in 2003 on the anniversary of Serge Gainsbourg’s death 13 years earlier. Click Here to read the article.



The Evening Standard published a review on 1st Feberuary 2013 about another show where the backing was done by a Japanese quartet (violin, horns, drums and a baby grand): To Read more about that other showpiece of Gainsbourg's poetry Click Here.




FranceInLondon: An interesting article about Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: Click Here.