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Dead Belgian play the music of Jacques Brel, one the greatest songwriters and performers of the twentieth century. He is recognised across Europe as a great commentator on love, life and death. The songs are performed in French, English and occasionally Flemish and the atmosphere they create on stage is electric - and sometimes quite humorous. They also bring in some of the adaptation of songs created by the legendary Scott Walker. The band have a great rapport with audiences, who are often amazed at how many Jacques Brel songs are familiar to them - either through originals, translations or English language adaptations.
Based in Liverpool, a city that has a more avant garde history than many suspect, they began life in 2007, inspired to share Brel’s music with all who would listen. Each member brought their own influences to the band, from European folk to progressive rock, stripping the songs to their bare bones and fattening them up again using a ramshackle drum kit, ukulele, guitar, accordion, saxophone, mandolin, clarinet and flute. Dead Belgian have developed a playful and inventive sound that meshes dense melodic patterns, demonic waves of intensity and passages of sparse frailty with vocals from Fionnuala Dorrity that has drawn comparison to Edith Piaf, Anthony Hegarty and Nico. It is a sound unique to themselves while still capturing the beauty, passion and often dark humour of the original work, a rousing and rowdy back-porch reinvention of Jacques Brel’s honest and poetic stories. Their CVs include theatre work, two founder members of Wizard of Twiddly, who since 1988 have toured UK and Continental Europe and collaborated with Kevin Ayers, Jimmy Carl Black (The Mothers of Invention) ... as well as sharing roof space with Ringo Starr on top of St. Georges Hall, Liverpool, as part of LIverpool's reign as European Cuty of Culture 2008. Members of the band have a lot of theatre experience, which adds to the drama of their gigs.
Andy Delamere - percussion, vocals
Fionnuala Dorrity - vocals, guitar, ukulele
Simon James - saxophone, flute, clarinet, mandolin, mandola, vocals
Matthew Wood - accordion, vocals
“Dead Belgain’s deliciously ramshackle approach deconstructs Brel the myth and icon to reclaim him as a street musician, chanson maestro and people’s champion … all the big songs are there – Amsterdam, Jacky, Me Ne Quitte Pas, Les Bourgeois, and in Fionnuala Dorritty have their own Piaf delivering passion and intensity in bundles over loose arrangements that seems to hit exactly the right levels of throwaway charm, joy, sorrow, frenzy, waywardness and fraught desperation” Colin Irwin, Mojo Magazine
“Dead Belgian blew us away with a stunning performance of power, beauty and finesse” Walthamstow Folk
“Alternating between French and English, singer Fionnuala Dorrity sings the songs as Brel did - coquettish during ‘Madeleine’, passionate in ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ and tortured in ‘Au Suivant’. Highlight of the set though was the concluding ‘Le Moribond’, a rousing and upbeat version which will cast out memories of Terry Jacks and Westlife” The Word
"You won't have heard anything quite like this, and we've had a lot of very different things on here" Janet Oosthuysen, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
“There’s little more satisfying than hearing a band take another artists work and make it their own but still staying true to the original artist. This is something that Dead Belgian have done with Jacques Brel’s music.” aaamusic