Aznavour en Liberté
Charles Aznavour’s Second NY Farewell Tour
(Charles Aznavour Website)
In Agreement with
Olivier & Dierckx Productions
(City Center Website)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 3, 2009
(See a Review of Aznavour’s 2006 Farewell Tour)
I was thrilled to experience yet one more Aznavour “Farewell Tour”, having been at his previous such concert at Radio City in 2006. For the record, I am a life-long Charles Aznavour fan, and, thankfully, today’s final New York concert of this run proved Aznavour to be in rare form. City Center stage was exotically lit in black, pink, and red, with shadowy profiles and a classy, classical ambiance. Even the 12 piece orchestra, including two young female singers, a pianist, an accordionist, and a keyboard player, added classically infused musical effects to Aznavour’s renowned standards.
During today’s matinee concert, the audience was totally his. He sang non-stop for almost two hours, and, as a few bars introduced each song, the sold-out crowd began to clap. It was also thrilling, for a change, not to hear the whoops and cheers, but, rather, the “bravos” and applause, a traditional audience for a traditional artist. At almost 85 years of age, Aznavour is incomparable. Of Armenian and French roots, he sings with throaty, sexy bravado, but vulnerable and so replete with memories. One identifies immediately with each and every song. This is not rock, or hip-hop, or metal, or even new Latin. Rather, his tones are the same as he sung his songs a half century ago, with pure sensuality, honest emotions, and based on personal life experiences. These are the songs of us all, of unrequited love, unrequited passion, and unrequited dreams. These are the songs of life.
Unlike Aznavour’s last “Farewell Tour”, all of the songs were sung in French (except the encore, “She”), which for this Francophile was perfect. I recall that in 2006 Aznavour mentioned the difficulty of remembering the lyrics in additional languages, and today he was totally at ease. His energy was high, he danced a bit across the stage with repetitive swirling foot motion, he sat on a stool, he moved about with his microphone, and he was joined by two backup chanteuses, including his lovely daughter, Katia Aznavour, who sings with elegance and charm. The songs melted, one into another, but those that I seem to recall are “Sa Jeunesse”, “Vivre avec Toi”, “Ay Mourir pour Toi”, “Pour Faire Une Jam”, “Après L’Amour”, “Si Je N’Avais Plus”, and “La Bohème”. Aznavour enlightened his loyal fans with brief introductions to establish the raison d’être and milieu of each torch song. One could only imagine Parisian streetlamps on the Seine, a glowing Sacré Coeur in Montmartre, a dark café, a snifter of cognac, as the music tenderly evoked relationships that blossomed and wilted, while the memory reconnects.
The accordionist, orchestra, and singers were not listed in today’s program. In fact, there was just the one page with Aznavour’s dates and producers. Aznavour’s website is not current, either, and his low tech style lends to the retro rarity of this genre. For now, I will have to settle for his recordings, but I wish they had taped this show. Aznavour is a magnet and a magician, one who embodies and creates souvenirs et désirs.
I eagerly await Aznavour’s next “Farewell Tour”.
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