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Arnaud Askoy masterfully resurrects Jacques Brel at the Olympia

Next Sunday, October 8, his name will shine for the first time in red on the Olympia pediment.

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Arnaud Askoy masterfully resurrects Jacques Brel at the Olympia

Next Sunday, October 8, his name will shine for the first time in red on the Olympia pediment. “The reward for ten years of work and a big risk at the start. I was aiming for the Olympia and here I am,” he says, moved. Inside, the room will be plunged into chiaroscuro. First, Arnaud Askoy will glance towards the secret skylight above the stage. The one that Gilbert Bécaud had installed in 1997 to bring down the souls of Edith Piaf, Yves Montand and all the greats who performed in this legendary room. Standing alone in front of the microphone accompanied on the accordion by Roland Romanelli and on the cello by Jean-Philippe Audin, his deep voice will rise to sing Les Marquises then Mathilde, Madeleine, les Bigottes, Le Plat Pays, Ne me leave pas... .

In all, eighteen hits by Jacques Brel with Amsterdam at the end and La valse à mille temps as an encore. Since 2019 because of the pandemic, this boy who does not look his 52 years old has given around fifty concerts across the four corners of France but also in Belgium and the Netherlands. The “Bréliens” adore him because, like their idol, he sings with his body. He stands on tiptoe, jumps, grimaces and shrugs his shoulders at just the right moment. His physical resemblance to Brel is striking. They have the same jaw, but like Jean-Baptiste Guégan who sings Johnny Hallyday, Arnaud Askoy is not a vocal double. He is an artist in his own right, a formidable performer. A “Brelian”.

Also read Return to the Marquesas with Jacques Brel's sailboat: the crazy project of two Flemish brothers

His story is not ordinary. “My real name is Arnaud Bassecourt, for a former cop, it’s easy to remember,” laughs the person concerned. Eavesdropping, shadowing and hiding places were his daily life. He started at Crime, moved to Narcotics and ended up at “36” at the PJ headquarters. He is at the heart of all affairs in the capital but his position becomes too political. “I made my first turn at 19,” he says. Before becoming a police officer, I was an aviation engineer.” Changing his life never scared him: “When my sister died, at 14, I knew very young that life could change overnight.”

Having become a detective, he hides in an apartment and finds time to wait. he takes the first CD he finds by chance to keep himself company in the hideout. It’s Jacques Brel’s and he’s upset about it. “I had never sung. At 43, my voice had not changed and suddenly, it rested on his. My deep voice was just asking to come out. This greatly disturbed those close to me.” He takes singing lessons, chooses an artist name "Askoy", a nod to the boat with which Brel left for the other side of the world. With other enthusiasts, he regularly goes to Flanders to help renovate this legendary yacht. “In this fall of 2023, we are a little behind schedule,” he confides. We have discovered problems with the hull and are waiting for the experts from the largest Belgian shipowner to come and repair them but they are overloaded with orders and as they do this work voluntarily, we have to wait.

For a long time, he sang in nursing homes and in the metro. “To top it off, I earned 80 euros per hour, people stayed for more than one song.” At Michou, four evenings a week, he sings without makeup in the middle of the show between a Dalida and a Sylvie. Laurent Delahousse hired him to shoot the evocation scenes in Un jour, un destin - Brel. He signs with a producer and his show La Promesse Brel is ready for Avignon. When Le Figaro discovered it for the first time, it was in the fall of 2019 at the Alhambra. The reviews are rave but the pandemic with the closure of performance halls stops everything. “The Olympia this Sunday October 6 closes this first part of my singing career. The concert will be filmed by the Olympia TV channel and by Stefan De Vries, the Dutch Michel Drucker for television in the Netherlands. I will continue to sing in France but my goal is to internationalize. After Geneva and Brussels, I already have good contacts in countries that adore Jacques Brel such as Japan, Argentina and the United States.” We wish him nothing but harm.

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