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Charles Aznavour dazzles London at 90

In this picture made available Friday, May 23, 2014, French chanson singer Charles Aznavour performs on stage in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, May 22, 2014. Aznavour celebrated his 90th birthday with a concert on Thursday. (AP Photo/dpa, Bernd von Jutrczenka)

LONDON: Legendary French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour, who celebrated his 90th birthday on stage in Berlin last month, defied the years to charm 5,500 spectators at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall on Sunday.

Taking the limelight to a standing ovation, the activist-singer promised the audience: "I'll sing half in English, half in French...tonight is about Entente cordiale".

Surrounded by seven musicians and two singers, the giant of French song began his set with "Les emigrants", in tribute to the world's migrants.

Looking relaxed in a dark suit, blue shirt with Mao collar and red braces, Aznavour made light his 90 years -- an age when "one sees badly and hears badly" -- but warned the audience he needed a teleprompter in case of memory lapse.

Despite frequently resting on a high chair, the entertainer's well-honed showmanship commanded the stage, with the audience reacting to every clenched fist and pained lament.

Aznavour recently said he still "writes every day, often a song a day", and revealed the secrets of his success.

"I try to be free with respect to music, and to find a good melody that is easy to remember," he explained.

The audience -- made up of many French and Armenians -- heard many of Aznavour's best-known songs, including "Mes Emmerdes", "She" and "Take Me Along", but it was his gypsy-inspired "Les deux guitares" and "La Boheme" that ignited the grand old venue.

Bouquets of flowers rained down on the stage as the crowd stood for a minute-long ovation, but their pleas for an encore went unheeded.

So it was without "La Mama", "Pour faire une Jam" and "Les Comediens" that the concert ended after nearly two hours.

Aznavour will play Barcelona on June 26, Rome on July 1, Los Angeles on September 13, Geneva on October 10 and Antwerp on November 22.

 

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Summary

Legendary French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour, who celebrated his 90th birthday on stage in Berlin last month, defied the years to charm 5,500 spectators at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall on Sunday.

Taking the limelight to a standing ovation, the activist-singer promised the audience: "I'll sing half in English, half in French ... tonight is about Entente cordiale".

Surrounded by seven musicians and two singers, the giant of French song began his set with "Les emigrants", in tribute to the world's migrants.


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