As I browsed through the extensive list of Adelaide Fringe events, one performance specifically caught my eye. A Night in Paris II almost literally takes its audience members to the city of love for a special evening of traditional French sounds and jazz rhythms, led by the soulful local singer Louise Blackwell. As the crowd got comfortable in the packed Nexus Art space, Louise and her band The French Set braced the stage with an exciting line-up of well-known French songs, accompanied by tales of their vintage creators.
Filled with wit, personality and a whole lot of heart, Louise had the crowd mesmerized from the get-go, passionately pouring herself into every lyric sung. Alongside Louise, Mark Ferguson on keys, Julian Ferraretto on violin, John Aue on double bass and Gary Isaacs on guitar helped set the scene as they crooned so smoothly, whisking us away to an intimate Parisian bar. I noticed myself shutting my eyes and smiling during moments where my mind would drift, but my feet would keep tapping to the beat of the bands’ beautiful renditions of popular French ballads, or to upbeat jazzy tunes that encapsulate Louise’s discovery of French variety music.
As we sat stunned by her strong yet gentle vocals, it was clear that she had gained an immense amount of experience singing in the Paris jazz scene, inspired by France’s myriad of quirky musicians, poets, songwriters and singers. Perhaps a standout of A Night in Paris II is its dedication to the featured musicians who uniquely dealt with this thing we call life. It’s not only an evening about music, but an ode to those who have deeply felt, and hurt.
With a top array of renowned French artists like Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker, Jean Sablon, Django Reinhardt, Charles Trenet, Maurice Chevalier, Juliette Greco, Serge Gainsbourg and Barbara, among others, it’s no wonder A Night in Paris’s sold out show last season was rated 4 and a half stars. Additionally, Louise pays respect to these 1900s classics who revolutionised the French art scene.
As each song ends, another begins, accompanied by her amusing telling of the songs’ story and respective owner. It’s this in depth knowledge and personal quality added to the entire duration of the performance that conveys Louise’s strong connection and affinity with ‘The French Chanson’, and with singing as a whole.
A Night in Paris II will be showing at Nexus Arts for one more show only on March 18, so don’t delay in purchasing your tickets to see Louise and her magnificent sidekicks, who will honestly take your breath away (and make you want to hop on the next plane to Pari for a crepe in front of the Eiffel Tower).
We rate: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars
Image: Adelaide Fringe website