Jane Birkin played her first UK concert at the Savoy Theatre in London on 25 September 1994. Good timing for me as I had just moved to London then. I was fortunate enough to get a ticket down near the front on the third row:
I remember reading at the time that although Jane was English she had not managed to get her singing career off the ground in the UK in any real sense (everyone knows Je t’aime…moi non plus but that’s about as far as it goes) and so had not yet been invited to play over here. In the end she decided to organise a concert in the UK as a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg and to donate the proceeds to charity. It was definitely a success – totally sold out – and, happily, Jane has not had to organise her own concerts in the UK since then.
To make the night more exciting, Dirk Bogarde (who played Jane’s father in Daddy Nostalgie and who she claimed as her adopted father in real life too!), turned up and made a little introduction before the concert began. Unfortunately I didn’t carry a camera with me in those days so I have no photographic evidence to share here.
The concert was amazing. I was sat next to a rather enthusiastic French boy who had travelled over to London especially to see Jane. He started to sing along with her and I heard his friend tell him off, so I joined in too so he wouldn’t feel obliged to stop. After the concert he turned and spoke to me in French, when I told him I was English he was so excited; an English fan of Jane who knew all the words! It was a fortunate meeting for me because he was obviously very experienced in “meeting Jane”. He told me we could meet her afterwards and gave me a word of advice I share with you here: if you ask her for a kiss, she will kiss you! It’s very true, she does.
We went outside and waited for Jane to exit the building. I wish I could remember the French boy’s name but for the life of me, I can’t – we exchanged a couple of letters after the concert but unfortunately lost contact somehow. Anyway, I should like to thank him here for initiating me in the art of meeting Jane. Eventually Charlotte Gainsbourg came out and I screamed her name (it was a little bit like that moment in L’Effrontée where the little girl screams out “Charlotte!” and then gets a nose bleed and faints, only without the nose bleed and fainting bit!) but unfortunately, at the same moment, Jane appeared with her mother Judy Campbell. The French boy told me I had to make my choice and so I had to forget meeting Charlotte. Her hopes must have been dashed, ha ha! Of course, I’ve regretted it a little myself since then…
So, I met Jane and Judy Campbell – Jane signed the front of the programme (see above) and Judy Campbell signed the page of family photos (it looks very faint, like she had an old blue felt tip pen or something!). They were both absolutely lovely and, yes, I did ask Jane for that kiss. I went home feeling as though I had kissed Serge Gainsbourg by proxy – sigh!
I’ve tried to see as many Jane concerts as I can since that day and I’ve also seen her in a couple of plays over in the UK as well (Women of Troy and Hamlet). I’ll share some more programmes and autographs on here at some point. I was also partly responsible for Jane’s appearance on the Graham Norton Show, but I’ll tell that story some other time too. In the meantime, here is the rest of the programme which includes tribute messages for Serge from various friends, collaborators and other famous people: