Adrienne Haan- Rock le Cabaret! In Review

Adrienne Haan- Rock le Cabaret! In Review

Adrienne Haan- Rock le Cabaret! In Review
Robert R. Blume and Joseph Barry present a Step Forward Entertainment Production: Adrienne Haan-Rock le Cabaret!
The Cutting Room, New York. NY
April 18, 2015


Back in the day (the eighteenth century French day, that is), cabarets were actually just smallish cleared-up spaces in the back of wine merchants’ shops. There, whoever wished could sing politically charged songs lamenting the overworked common man and his or her lot and loves. Naturally, these venues aroused suspicion on the part of the ruling powers, as did cafés .

Closer to our time, cabaret has come to mean a somewhat more genteel listening experience, often in posh surroundings, with standards from the American (or other national) songbook and musical theater material, delivered with some patter in between.

On Saturday night, April 18, 2015, the force of nature that is Adrienne Haan restored some of the fury that this genre could use, in her fusion of 20’s and 30’s inspired French chansons mashed-up with propulsive rock arrangements (all by Rainer Peters). This was no shrinking violet of an evening, but rather a high-energy spectacular. The unifying story-line was that of love: its longings, satisfactions, and endings.

She took almost every iconic song from Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, and even Kurt Weill, and shifted them (even the ballads) into high gear. As a result, perhaps there was too much sameness in the sound, which was heavily amplified to the point where the balances in the small, charmingly eccentric Cutting Room space were off, to the detriment of understanding a percentage of the lyrics.

A standout for me was the rendition of Brel’s Le Port d’Amsterdam, in which her tone and the arrangement and the material were in perfect alignment. This catalog of a seaport and its seedy needy denizens was delivered with maximum rage and/or disdain, yet turned also to empathy and identification.

Ms. Haan’s version of La Vie en rose reminded me of Grace Jones’ 80’s disco version, but her singing of Youkali, the Kurt Weill fantasy location where forbidden lovers may enjoy their ill-fated hook-ups, was extremely touching. The concert could have used more points of repose and lyricism like this. Ms. Haan is hyper-kinetic, urging the audience to clap along, even sing along at one point in the encore; she could be described as relentlessly positive, even when the emotions being sung about are less so.

Not to be overlooked, her five-piece band was extremely talented; this was evident despite the volume level. Two of the five even traveled from Germany to do this event. The others were from the enormous freelance talent pool of New York City.

Clearly Ms. Haan is a huge talent; she sang in only one of her six languages, and she often performs in many other styles as well. Perhaps I would have found the evening more interesting if the new versions had been interspersed with more traditional material; in that way, the appreciation of contrast could have been even greater. But that is just me. She generated enormous excitement in the room, and justifiably so. She is a totally-involved, hard working, generous and energetic artist.