Barb Jungr – St George’s, Bristol

Thursday 14th November, 2019

I used to do this, rush home from a gig and type. I rarely do thesedays partly because I go to so damn many gigs and partly because through the discipline of regular writing I don’t feel the need to. Yet, tonight, I want to get down how I felt about this gig as soon as possible.

I’ve just got home. It is cold. The temperature is barely above freezing. My feet don’t seem to belong to my body. Yet I feel a warm glow inside my heart. The music I’ve heard tonight has made me feel all aglow.

Shame on me, but I had never heard of Barb Jungr until I saw this gig in the St George’s programme but anyone who could be described as the love child of Edith Piaf & Nick Cave deserved to be seen I thought. Besides anyone eccentric enough to declare that they will only sing songs written by composers whose names begin with B is my kind. Hence Bob, Brel and Me as the subtitle of this show. Only songs written by Jacque Brel, Bob Dylan and Barb herself were included. They were all ones she hadn’t covered before and in new translations to boot.

As soon as Barb walked onstage, resplendent and beaming I liked her and felt immediately at ease. She sings with her heart on her sleeve, with all the emotions beautifully controlled, but nonetheless poured into the interpretation of the song. There was her beautiful smile, warmth, playfulness and wit through most of the brilliant first half which included Jacky and Tambourine Man, but her own works were the best.  Cathedral (A Brel song) was incredibly moving, the words given meaning and life by the tone, timbre and colours in Barb’s voice. Later there was anguish and pain;  we ran the gamut of what it means to love. If We Only Had Love was a masterclass in how to deliver the emotional sucker punch of a song without ever losing control, it was close to being too powerful. What a jazz chanteuse she is.

Barb is a great storyteller, both in words and song. I will not forget the tiger tamer’s white leather in a hurry is all I can say! I think I could listen to her spin me a yarn about almost anything. She was more than ably supported by Jenny and Jamie on piano and organ – I hope Jamie enjoyed spending his birthday playing for us.

This was a wonderful gig and I am very, very glad that I bought a ticket. Thank you, Barb, your warmth and kindness shone through.


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