It’s a good job it’s dark inside the Spiegeltent, because nobody could see the tears that kept appearing out of the corner of my right eye. Hrumph. Must have been a bit of grit in there.

Christine Bovill's PIAF. Photo by @nazipova

Christine Bovill. Photo by @nazipova

Christine Bovill is probably best known for her iconic Piaf perfromances, where she devastates with the shimmering, sonorous and tremolo quality that Piaf’s voice had. Paris is a more diverse collection of music – still set in the golden age of French Chanson, but with contributions from Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, Juliette Greco and Charles Trenet among others.

The Spiegeltent is a glorious in the round venue, with a little bar at the back, tables, and generous room to sit. Mirrored support pillars reflect audience and performer alike, and once inside, and the lights go low, you can easily believe you are in another city in another part of the world.

There’s history here, too – Edith Piaf’s great friend Marlene Dietrich, once performed in this tent in Edinburgh, and in 2012, Charles Dumont, who wrote ‘No Regrets’ for Piaf 60 years ago, performed his famous song with Bovill.

Bovill is accompanied only by a piano, but the accompaniment is perfection, and you are able to focus on the immense quality and depth of her voice. You’re in Paris within minutes. The timing of the light changes and the lighting effects are worth a mention of appreciation – nothing showy – but just very effective to add to the atmosphere for each song.

Christine introduces each song with simple stories about the background to it, or some details of the life of its author or most famous performer, and these insights add poignancy to the performances. I’d never thought of Brel’s Sons of as an anti-war song, more a lament for lost youth, but hearing it afresh, it became clear as day to me.

Listening to iconic songs like Dumont’s No Regrets and Brel’s Port Of Amsterdam sent a shiver down my spine, and put a lump in my throat. It’s rare that a musical performance has such a deep emotional effect, but Bovill’s amazing voice does it every time. It’s heart-rending stuff, and her delivery and phrasing is astonishing – you keep pinching yourself and asking if you’re really hearing this, and really sitting in this beautiful venue.

A packed opening night audience enjoyed an hour of faultless entertainment. As always with Bovill, I recommend you book early, as this show will undoubtedly sell out.

5 Stars

> Click here to book Christine Bovill’s Paris now
Aug 13, 15, 18-21 at 19:40 (1hr 10min)
Venue 87 – The Famous Spiegeltent, St Andrews Square Garden