If you have ever been tempted to come along to the monthly Blue Hours cabarets run by Barb Jungr at New Greenham Arts, but have never quite summoned up the nerve – put off perhaps by the prospect of being nobbled by some geekie jazz reviewer rattling on about the Great American Songbook – here is a chance to get a taster of the evenings. About eighteen months ago cheek2cheek productions decided to make an “in concert” style film of one of Barb Jungr’s shows. Speaking to the lady last week, she sounded very pleased with the way it had turned out.
“I’m a hundred per cent artist and I try to give my best every single time I perform, “she said. “I think the team’s main achievement has been to capture the intensity of my performance and I’m really happy with it.
Making an “in concert” film presents two hazards. It can capture the vibe of the performance, warts and all, in which case it has a scruffy feel. Alternatively, it can be over-produced so that all sense of a live show disappears. The production company have very cleverly found a middle way. We sense the audience interaction when they give over a fair bit of time to one of Jungr’s best anecdotes – the one about meeting a monk from Milton Keynes living in a bush in Battersea Park. Don’t ask – she still swears it is true. There are also nice touches, like keeping in some “out-takes” when make-up people rush on to mend her slap and lippie. But their main concern has been the music.
Devoid of her Dylan, Brel and Nina Simone material, for reasons of copyright, it is not exactly a typical Barb Jungr set. But that allows in some great numbers from the likes of Robb Johnson, Christine Collister and Barb herself, who I think sometimes under-sells her own work. Visually, everything is shot against a black and white stage set of cabaret bill boards with the punters sitting around tables, decadently sipping wine, the way you do. The sound is superb. My only gripe is that the camera could, perhaps, have caught a little more of Jenny Carr on piano and Jessica Lauren on harmonica, organ and backing vocals. And she saves the best until last – a calm, philosophical reading of Johnson’s Au Depart, dedicated to the late Russell Churney.
Blue Hours fans will love this dvd and Jungr has them very much in mind. “I’d like to thank all the regulars who have been so marvellous over the years and who co-operated so splendidly with making this film. It has taken a long time to make but I think it has been worth the wait.”
Chanson Encore! can be bought on-line. http://www.cheek2cheekproductions.co.uk