Review: Heartwarming, heartwrenching and life-affirming music from Ute Lemper at Stables

Ute Lemper
Ute Lemper

Peter Dennis reviews Ute Lemper at The Stables, Wavendon

German chanteuse Ute Lemper brought her show Last Tango in Berlin to The Stables this month to perform songs associated with Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf and others.

Entering a stage drenched in smoke and accompanied only by piano and accordion Ute opened her set with Friedrich Hollaender's Want to Buy Some Illusions and as if by magic the audience was immediately whisked back to Weimar Germany, 1928.

Outside there is decadence and political unrest but inside the world of Kabarett biting satire is performed.

The sole custodian of this repertoire Ute Lemper performed songs that are warnings from history.

Spoliansky's It's All a Swindle is just as relevant in today's economic climate while The Lavender Song, championed LGBT rights 90 years ago.

From Berlin cabaret we were transported to the trenches of World War Two via Edith Piaf's Lili Marleen exploring the hopes and fears of soldiers and then, by way of Ute's Songs For Eternity, we stepped into the Riga ghetto where far different hopes burned.

The quintessential European Ute is fluent in English, French, Spanish as well as her native German and this gives her work a real authenticity as we explored the seedy underside of the nocturnal world with Jacques Brel's Amsterdam and visit the lonely bars and bistros in the back streets of Paris with a heart rending rendition of Ne Me Quitte Pas.

The musical journey continued with Ute venturing into the vanished world of Eastern Europe with a rousing klezmer version of Stiller Abend by Polish-born Israeli artist Chava Alberstein.

For the final song we were taken full circle back to the Berlin of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht with Ute's trade mark version of Die Moritat Von Mackie Messer from 'The Threepenny Opera' which was warmly embraced by the audience.

Tonight's performance was been both heart-warming and heart-wrenching but ultimately life affirming.

Despite the songs origins in different countries and languages what held the show together were the universal themes of loneliness, love and loss. They are themes that anyone can relate to.