No, no regrets…

You often get the measure of a musical performance from the crowd witnessing it. So when the crowd at the end of this performance all jump to their feet and cheer, stamp their feet and whistle and applaud loudly, it’s not difficult to guess that they like what they are hearing.

Christine Bovill's PIAF. Photo by @nazipova

Christine Bovill’s PIAF. Photo by @nazipova

Bovill’s set, lighting and accompaniment are stripped down to the essentials, and you are able to focus on the tremendous quality and depth of her voice. This evening, she’s missing her accordionist, but the show goes on regardless with just the piano. The setting of the circular Spiegeltent is breathtaking as the sunlight fades, and the mirrors and coloured glass glow with more prominence, then fade down again as the evening moves on.

The fascinating aspect of this show for those who are new to Piaf’s music is that Bovill introduces each song with simple stories about the legend of Edith Piaf, which gives each song added meaning and resonance. She also explains the story of how she discovered Piaf’s music for the first time, and how an obsession with her music has impacted her life.

Bovill moves through an hour-long repertoire that includes some of Piaf’s most iconic songs, and the stories about the loss and tragedy that was the background to so many made for an emotional time, and I was not the only person in the audience to sniff gruffly and find I was wiping a tear from the corner of my eye at the end of several songs. This music is visceral – it grabs you in the guts and really moves you.

Bovill’s expressive and evocative voice has the same shimmering, sonorous and tremolo quality that Piaf had – and listening to iconic songs like No Regrets and Hymn to Love sends a shiver down your spine.

The setting is near-perfect, and the ambience for the duration of the Festival in Saint Andrews’ Square is sublime. There’s the added bonus that you can enjoy a drink during the show, and thanks to the generous seating layout, not be constantly bumping elbows with your neighbours. There’s a bit of history here too – Piaf’s great friend Marlene Dietrich, performed in this tent in Edinburgh, and in 2012, Charles Dumont, who wrote ‘No Regrets’ for Piaf 59 years ago, performed his famous song alongside Bovill.

This is an hour of superb entertainment: beautiful music that is perfectly and simply staged, with the added pathos that comes with the stories about each song. I recommended you book this early, as this show tends to grow in word-of-mouth reputation rapidly during its run and then sell out.

5 Stars

> Click here to book this show now
Aug 8-9, 12-16, 19, 21-22, 26-30 at 19:20
Venue 87 – The Famous Spiegeltent, St Andrews Square Garden