Photos by Christie Goodwin
By Pierre Perrone
Three songs into what turns out to be a lengthy, 2-hour long set you’d hardly expect from a 91 year-old, now officially the oldest performer to headline the regal London venue, Charles Aznavour takes off his slate-coloured jacket and flings it on the grand piano as he reveals a pair of bright red braces.
The most diminutive chanson legend means business and punches the air after dramatically hitting the high note at the end of ”Paris Au Mois D’Août“ (Paris In The Month of August), the title song of a doomed love affair film he made with Susan Hampshire five decades ago. In fact, he’s not just singing to the French expats who have wandered up from South Kensington with a glass of rosé – fact! – the British and the London-based Armenian community love him too, and with good reason.
He makes fun of the téléprompteur that enables him to give a masterclass in song-writing in between duetting with his daughter Katia on ”Je Voyage” and delivering a sublime ”She”, the 1974 chart-topper revived by Elvis Costello for the Notting Hillsoundtrack 15 years later. If this is your entrée into the thousand-plus chansons Aznavour has composed, you’re in for a treat. After nonchalantly singing ”The Old Fashioned Way”, he returns for ”What Makes A Man A Man”, arguably the first song about homosexuality by a non-homosexual. Its message of acceptance is magnified by the bouquet of flowers he carries on the shoulder like a gun as he wanders off stage, an impish smile on his face. He promises to be back when he is 100. Don’t bet against it! Chapeau Monsieur Aznavour!