Well, it had been three nights with very little sleep
Primavera Sound’s main SEAT stage is used to handling its fair share of people on any given day but the vast number of musicians that pack it out as part of Jane Birkin’s symphonic orchestra tribute to her late partner and collaborator, Serge Gainsbourg, must be a new record. Stood in front of the tens and tens of players is Birkin in an elegant and sharp suit, her voice immediately understated yet poised as the orchestra slowly winds up.
What then follows is a performance that is both immensely powerful and deftly restrained in equal measure, with the weight of the orchestra often swelling and then shrinking like some majestic living and breathing organism. As Birkin works through a version of ‘Baby Alone in Babylone’, she almost seems lost in the moment, her eyes slightly distant and entranced as she bathes in the waves of the strings that gush forth from behind her. It’s these moments that become the most poignant throughout the evening; several times Birkin turns to face to her company and seems to soak up the moment, looking reflective as she exists in the memories of the songs and the soaring interpretations of them.
As she then works through tracks such as ‘Valse De Melody’ and ‘Une Chose Entre Autres’ things only become more magic. Over an hour and a half the intensity, elegance and grace of the performance grows. There’s a fragility and tenderness to Birkin’s voice that sits nicely as songs performed in memory, with her tone feeling reflective but not nostalgic or overdone.