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Songs of Jacques Brel at Barbican tonight

PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:06 05 October 2010

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CONSIDERING he has never been a household name in the English-speaking world, the longevity of Jacques Brel s influence since his death in 1978 has been startling. His unforgettable songs, and his impassioned singing style, have remained touchstones in a

CONSIDERING he has never been a household name in the English-speaking world, the longevity of Jacques Brel's influence since his death in 1978 has been startling.

His unforgettable songs, and his impassioned singing style, have remained touchstones in a strange freemasonry of admirers across the worlds of rock, pop, jazz, theatre and cabaret.

His fans include David Bowie, Scott Walker, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen and Frank Sinatra.

Some of his songs have made the leap from the Francophone world in translation - notably Amsterdam, If You Go Away and Next, memorably covered by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

Becoming one of the best-loved troubadours of the early 1960s in France and Belgium, Brel suddenly left the music world in 1967 to make films and then lived reclusively in the South Pacific.

He only emerged from retirement in 1977 when, already ill with cancer, he made a come-back album, Brel. He died the following year.

Marking what would have been his 80th birthday year, the Barbican celebrates one of the greatest lyricists in a show which brings together a line-up of great songwriters and interpreters of the present day, including Marc Almond, one half of synth-pop duo Soft Cell.

In 1989 Almond's tribute album to Brel, Jacques, contained a dozen Brel songs in his own English translations.

Carousel: The Songs of Jacques Brel is performed at the Barbican tonight (Thursday) by Marc Almond, Arno, , Arthur H, Diamanda Galás, Momus and Camille O'Sullivan.

Tickets cost £20-£35 from www.barbican.org.uk or 020 7638 8891.

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