French star Bruel touches rap, Elvis and politics in US

2nd November 2014, Comments 0 comments

French pop star Patrick Bruel, returning to the New York stage after seven years, embraced US music from hip-hop to Elvis as he also touched gently on politics.

The singer told the 3,000-seat Beacon Theatre Saturday night he was overjoyed to return to New York, where he first came in 1979 to explore the city's artistic life before he launched his career at home.

Bruel at one point donned a leather jacket to strut with three hip-hop-inspired dancers -- whom, he said, he first met hours before in New York -- as he rapped part of his hit "Alors Regarde," the title track of the 1989 album that is the fourth best-selling in French history.

The 55-year-old later got out an acoustic guitar and sang in English, with a soaring voice, Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love.

"Bringing a political undertone to the show, Bruel urged the mostly French crowd to take to heart his song "Lequel de Nous" in which he pleads for people to "see each other as the opposite of a threat.

"The screen at one point aired footage of historic rivals coming together, including the famous 1993 White House handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, triggering some of the loudest applause of the night.

"The songs usually say it all by themselves, but sometimes you add a few pictures and words to say it better," Bruel told a small group of reporters after the show.

"A desire for peace is a part of our daily life and a concern for everyone," he said.

Bruel, who is Jewish and has rejected activist calls to boycott Israel, has frequently been asked about his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He has described himself as a pacifist, and he is also an outspoken critic of France's far-right.

In other shifts in style on stage, Bruel sat at the piano to play a cover of David Bowie's "Life on Mars?" as well as an abridged version of Chopin's Nocturne, Opus 9, Number Two.

"I've become more and more free as an artist.

I let myself play the music I love," he said afterward.

"It's pretty much pop, and we take it from there and enjoy.

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© 2014 AFP

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