May
01
1987

Hamburg, DE (Pop-Stars perform Brecht/Weill (Schauspielhaus))

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SHOW REVIEW

Sting in Hamburg...

The gathering of such an unlikely trio of talents, to perform a selection of songs from the work of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, was the brainchild of the New Age composer and conductor Eberhard Schoener who is, loosely speaking, a German equivalent of Jean-Michel Jarre.

The idea was for an unique gala event; two shows recorded for German television, but consigned to history thereafter. It would indeed have been hard to duplicate the sense of occasion that prevailed in the intimate, curlicued splendour of this baroque theatre as the curtain rose on Schoener's traditional orchestra, numbering 40 or more musicians, playing overture to 'The Threepenny Opera'.

Sting appeared, a vision of the New European Man dressed in black, to sing 'Mac The Knife', and wrestled good humouredly with the lyrics, which for most of the show were to be performed in the original German. Whilst the vogueish interest in Weill has led to a variety of souped up versions of his work by rock musicians, notably on the 1985 collection 'Lost In The Stars', on which Sting participated, this performance adhered to the spirit of the works as written.

The Italian rock star Gianna Nannini, another long-standing devotee of the Brecht/Weill canon, made her strongest contribution singing a selection of material from 'Mahogany', including a dramatic performance of 'The Alabama Song'. Also dressed in black, and with a rough edge to her sensuous voice, she carried something of the streetwise mien that is associated with Chrissie Hynde. There was a powerful duet with Sting on 'Love Song'.

But it was Jack Bruce, now a German resident, who was the biggest surprise. He sang 'Lost In The Stars' fortissimo with towering conviction, and then played an inspired instrumental arrangements of 'Bilbao Song' on bass guitar. His resonant vocal style and familiarity with the language did the most justice to the alternately lilting choruses and shambling fairground cadences of Weill's often sleazy paeans to the decadent Weltanschauung of an era so often recalled in the Eighties.

(c) The Times by David Sinclair

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