Southside Advertiser, Edinburgh
October 21, 2017
Ute Lemper Last Tango in Berlin – The Best of Ute tour sees the return of one of the world’s most iconic singers and performance artists to the Queen’s Hall stage in Edinburgh after a far too long gap of over five years.
Last Tango in Berlin is a walk back through the elusive waters of time that we all pass through but can never hold onto as it washes over us all leaving little but memories. This is a personal trip by Ute Lemper as she acts not only as our guide to the music that has inspired her over her life, but also some very special moments in her own life. Our story takes us back to the last days of the Weimar Republic and the subversive music of the Cabaret bars of 1920s Berlin, through the terrible years of World War 2, the rise and fall of the Berlin wall and into Ute Lemper immersing herself in the music and ideals of 1980s Paris.
In this show Ute Lemper leaves no one in the audience in any doubt as to why she is regarded by many as one of the great performers of her generation – a link in that great line of German Cabaret stars and singers as she effortlessly moves through the cabaret of Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht, Chansons Francaises, Jacques Brel, Argentinian Tango, American Jazz (I need to add Ute Lemper to that very small list of people I can listen to scatting now too) and innovative work with poets such as Charles Bukowski. Also work from the sublime collaboration with Paulo Coelho on the album “The 9 Secrets”.
Last Tango in Berlin is very much a story, and part of the wonder of this show is going on this journey with Ute as she tells you this story and introduces you to music and people along the way. It is a very skilfully conceived work that, although having great cohesive strength, also has an air of fragility about it, almost as if Ute is whispering her words on the winds of time itself as you start to leave the world of the theatre behind you and enter completely into the world that Ute is creating out of her words and music. I don’t want to spoil that world for you by telling you too much about it, but a few highlights will give not too much away.
Opening with “Want to Buy Some Illusions” by Ute Lemper, the scene is set immediately for a master storyteller at work, and through our journey, classics including “Falling in Love Again”, “Mack The Knife” and “Lili Marlene” are brought to life as only Ute Lemper can. The highlight of the evening for me though was a beautiful performance of Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas” – of course keeping the original lyrics and not the English ones by Rod McKuen. Whatever language Ute Lemper is singing in as she effortlessly switches from German to French to English, somehow her performance of the song translates everything into a universal language that you instinctively understand the meaning and essence of somewhere in your very soul.
Proving that time is itself of course timeless, and that words and music can have as much relevance now as when written, a touching performance of “Das Lila Lied” (“The Lavender Song”) a German cabaret song written in 1920 with lyrics by Kurt Schwabach.
Ute Lemper is a totally unique artist, performer, singer, and writer, and in a very special place that few performers ever get to. I have a belief that words and music are like magic, and in their own right almost alive, and everywhere around us. Sometimes they choose a very special person to be an interpreter for them…someone who can live and breathe what they have to say, and Ute Lemper is one of those very special people.
Accompanying Ute Lemper tonight on stage were Vana Gierig (pianist), Victor Hugo Villena (bandoneon) and Romain Lecuyer (acoustic bass).