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Monday, September 16, 2019


Du Toit has a strong, rich melodious voice and the gravitas to translate Jacques Brel’s unique style of music perfectly. (Review by Keith Millar)

It is almost inevitable that one of the offerings at any Arts Festival will be a production based on the life and music of the legendry Belgium/French singer/songwriter Jacques Brel - arguably the greatest chansonnier of the 20th century.

And, as I am a massive fan of Brel’s music, if there is a Brel show on offer that is where you will find me.

So I, and 12 other hardy souls, braved the cold and wet evening weather at the Hilton Arts Festival this year and made our way to the Band Room at the College to attend Jannie du Toit’s excellent show, Bonjour Monsieur Brel.

Jannie du Toit is a veteran Afrikaans singer-songwriter from Gauteng. He has been performing the music of Jacques Brel since 1988 and has achieved success across the country and overseas.

In this production he does not just churn out the “Best of Brel” but digs a little deeper into the poet/songwriter’s repertoire and comes up with some passionately haunting songs which he illustrates with excerpts from Brel’s poignant writings and which showcase Brel’s unique look on life.

Du Toit has a strong, rich melodious voice and the gravitas to translate Jacques Brel’s unique style of music perfectly.

He is joined on stage by Susan Mouton on cello and Chanie Jonker on piano and accordion while du Toit himself plays the guitar from time to time. This provides an atmospheric backing which easily transports you to a late night smoky French café.

Du Toit - who delivers the songs in four languages, English, Afrikaans, French and Dutch - does not totally ignore the big numbers as he also performs the likes of Marieke, Ne Me Quite Pas (Seasons In The Sun), Amsterdam, Voir un ami pleurer (To see a friend crying), Jojo, Carousel and of course the great If We Only Had Love.

Although he only had an audience of 13, du Toit put his heart into it and delivered all the passion, love and tenderness Brel was capable of despite his sometimes stark, violent and emotional lyrics.

I am not sure if Jannie du Toit would ever consider visiting KZN again because of the lack of support he received, but if he does and you are a Jacques Brel fan don’t miss this show for a different take on this great artist. – Keith Millar

For more information on the Hilton Arts Festival visit