Aznavour encore

The legendary chansonnier is preparing to perform his first UK concert in more than 25 years. He tells Zoë McIntyre about his forthcoming show

At the age of 89, Charles Aznavour is a musical phenomenon. During a near-70-year career that took off after he toured with Édith Piaf in the late 1940s, the French-Armenian singer has released nearly 300 albums in various languages, written more than 1,200 songs and sold well over 100 million records. He is one of the last surviving exponents of the traditional chanson française and has earned acclaim beyond France with songs including She, Dance in the Old-fashioned Way and Yesterday When I Was Young.

Aznavour’s British fans will have the chance to see him in the flesh in October when he appears in concert in the UK for the first time in more than 25 years. “I’ve wanted to come back to England for a long time,” he says, “but due to scheduling problems, we couldn’t do it. I love England, it gave me a number one with She in 1974 which was then used in Notting Hill [the 1999 film where it was sung on the soundtrack by Elvis Costello].”

The concert is being held at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which is held in high regard by the singer. “It will be a great pleasure to return to the Albert Hall; it was the first venue I played in Britain back in 1967. I have appeared at a lot of locations in the UK, but the Royal Albert Hall is like the Olympia in Paris; it has soul,” he adds.

Ticket-holders can expect their favourite Aznavour numbers. “The set-list changes, but all I can say is to expect two or three new songs and the classics.”

The concert comes in the same month as the 50th anniversary of Piaf’s death, but the timing is a coincidence. “We found a suitable date, and I said yes, but I will be part of various events in Paris and New York to celebrating Piaf’s anniversary,” Aznavour confirms.

Charles Aznavour appears at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 October 2013. Tickets start from £45.

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