Piaf-Brel: Impossible Concert

Monday, being my day off, I decided to take in two more Fringe plays. I started off with Piaf and Brel: The Impossible Concert. I followed that up with Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes. I’ll by doing a review of Peter Fechter later today. Piaf and Brel is perfromed by Melanie Gall.  If you read my review of her knitting cabaret show from last year, l’m a big fan of Ms. Gall’s singing and performance.

Location and show times are here. Ms. Gall is also doing a children’s show, Jazz Cat

Piaf costume
Ms. Gall in her Piaf inspired costume. The costume was deigned by Ms. Gall’s sister.

Piaf and Brel: The Impossible Concert is based around the idea of the two singers, sharing a stage. The concert is impossible in that as can best be proved, the two singers never met. Yet, they were both stars, particularly in Paris for much of the same time period. 

This helps to hold the show together. Another things that holds the show together is that they experienced many of the same trials before they achieved their fame. Ms. Gall does an excellent job of weaving these elements together. In addition she includes snippets over her own life and career, and how Piaf and Brel have influenced it. This also enables her to keep fresh material that features in others of her shows.

Piaf and Brel: Odd but Familiar

If you are not familiar with either of these artists, you may be surprised to find that you recognize several of the songs. That’s because many of them were translated into English. This generally has not improved the songs. Ms. Gall’s explanation of how Brel’s Moribond became Terry Jack’s Seasons in the Sun, will give you a good idea why this is so.

Ms. Gall also helps to illustrate the crossover nature of these songs by occasionally slipping in the words of the English translations into her performance. Mostly, however she sings the songs in the original French. Despite not being able to make out most of the lyrics, the sense of the songs are still brought through.

Before the show ends, Ms. Gall invites the audience to sing along to Non, Je ne Regrette Rien, one of Piaf’s best known songs. It’s a fun little twist that further engages the audience.

As always Ms. Gall’s voice is clear, and moves effortlessly from level to level both in pitch and dynamic. In addition to her singing she has a warm and friendly storytelling style with a nice element of self-deprecating humour to go with. Piaf and Brel: The Impossible Concert is must see Fringe entertainment.


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