Review: Nikolai Galen at Norwich Playhouse
- Credit: supplied
When one time frontman for The Shrubs Nikolai Galen (then, Nick Hobbs) became smitten by the songs of the Belgian singer, songwriter and actor Jacques Brel, he looked about for a style and a forum for translating and interpreting some of the huge catalogue.
And he found it. Acapella, spoken-sung poetry, free-improvisation, recitation, performance - all in a one-man show alone on stage with a microphone and a commanding presence that touched the heart, that puzzled and reflected life in equal measure.
Songs such as 'If You Go Away', 'Amsterdam' and 'Seasons in the Sun' may be familiar to British audiences, but Brel's influence on artists as diverse as David Bowie, Marc Almond, Scott Walker, Dusty Springfield and Celine Dion speak to a wider legacy and Galen added his voice to the tributes.
Touching the heart with often dark melancholy, hope and pure love, he reached 'hopeless, hopeless people' asking 'why do men grow tired of life?' with the high-points being a disturbing love plea, 'Don't Ever Leave Me' and the devil's triumph, 'All's Well'.