Having recently triumphed with an international tour of her Piaf and Paris shows,the wonderful singer and musician Christine Bovill returns to the Tron Theatre’s cosy Victorian Bar. It’s her 8th time here,and she’s a relaxed,warm and chatty presence.
Accompanied by superb young musicians Aileen Sweeney on piano and accordion and Julian Pombo on double bass, both of whom are recent graduates of The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, it’s a fun and seductive experience. “My knees have gone!”she grins,sitting with her acoustic guitar, insisting “it’s chamomile, honest!” in her flask-oh,the glamour…
Bovill’s cognac and honey voice is both soothing and soaring, at its most intimate during her own songs like Coming Home and Midnight Coffee.
She’s emotionally raw during her Leonard Cohen covers of Dance Me to the End of Love and Everybody Knows, both given Cafe Society makeovers, citing the double blow of learning of Cohen’s death and Donald Trump’s shock election results on the same morning.
In one touching moment, her dad joins her onstage for Let It Be Me-he’s no slouch himself on the harmonies. It could be corny coming from any other artist-but it’s actually very low-key and sweet.
Bovill deftly eschews the cliches of the tortured artist, performing Shadows with a roll of her eyes,and ad libbing, “I don’t have my glasses”, during, ironically, Did I Remember. Yet there is a dramatic charge to much of the material, an intensity to the songs which builds and builds, filling the room and floating outside onto the dark streets.
Her own composition, Kelvinbridge,feels bittersweet and poignant in these uncertain times. And nothing gets lost in translation when she plays her famous interpretations of chansons in French. Her love of Piaf,Porter and all things Parisian give the songs ballast-she’s a true fan,passionate and insightful.
Self-deprecating Bovill may be,but she is the genuine article; funny, earthy and as heartwarming as whatever is in her flask.
Beautiful, in any language.
At Tron Theatre until November 18th. Touring throughout 2018.