Last Sunday evening, we went to see Louise Blackwell and her ensemble of 6 musicians for her show A night in Paris. St John’s Anglican Church was full, and the crowd attentive.
Louise Blackwell & The French Set sing well-known French songs as well as lesser known French songs. Yes, you will hear songs by Piaf, but you will also hear from artists such as Greco, Charles Aznavour and Georges Brassens. And some Serge Gainsbourg, bien sûr! In A night in Paris, Louise Blackwell sang, among others, “Le Petit Commerce” by Boris Vlan, “Parlez-moi d’amour” written by Jean Lenoir, “Aux bois de mon cœur” by Brassens. Her version of “Ou sont passés mes pantoufles” by Marcel et son orchestre was very amusing. We laughed a lot and it was the perfect end to the show.
Louise is trained in jazz, having studied it for two years in Paris. She sung in the Parisian jazz bars, including L’Ogresse Théâtre des marionnettes, Sunside, Les Sept Lezards, Le Franc Pinot and Café Universel. She sings accompanied by her group The French Set, which is made up of 6 very talented musicians. Julian Ferraretto plays violin and is a reputed and very much in demand violinist. Mark Ferguson plays piano but is also so much more, also being a composer and arranger. Joshua Baldwin plays the drums. John Aué is on double bass. He is also a lecturer of bass and jazz in Adelaide. Gary Isaacs is the guitarist and Alex Taylor is on brass.
Something that Louise does, which so many others who sing in foreign languages either forget or choose not to do is to explain a little about what each song is about. We cannot assume that the francophile audience is also French speaking. In particular, in A night in Paris, we loved her summary of Yves Montand’s “LaBicyclette” especially when her Australian side shone through (and we love her even more for that). It’s about “4 blokes with a crush on one girl”. It also shows just how down to Earth Louise i. She is refined but she also knows how to build rapport with her audience.
We are used to seeing Louise perform at Nexus Arts, so when we saw that she was going to do a show in a church, we were very interested to see how it would be different to her other shows. In these other shows, we are more used to cabaret seating. Here, being in rows, seated one behind another was a change.
Unfortunately, there were some sound issues. Sometimes when Louise spoke between songs it was very difficult to understand what she was saying. Her voice was being muffled. It’s sad because her explanations of the songs and of their singers are always interesting and sometimes amusing.
It’s rare these days to see a show with a full ensemble. It’s always a pleasure to see Louise Blackwell & The French Set. And A night in Paris was loved by all. Everyone in the church had their eyes firmly fixed on them. Louise Blackwell & The French Set won the Fringe Weekly Award for Music last year and I think it is highly possible that they will win it again this year.
I also wanted to express my condolences to Louise Blackwell and all of her family. Her brother Paul Blackwell, well-known in Australian theatre circles passed away on the morning of the show. We would have all understood if Louise had chosen to cancel the show given these circumstances. Her performance was even more impressive given these events.
Louise Blackwell & The French Set are a group you must see. Sometimes they play throughout the year and we strongly recommend that you purchase tickets. You won’t regret it!
Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Fringe
A night in Paris has three more performances at the Adelaide Fringe – this Tuesday and Wednesday 26 and 27 at Stirling Fringe and this Thursday 28 February at Nexus Arts, where we are used to seeing them perform. Unfortunately for you though, these shows are already sold out. You will have to get your tickets early next time around.
However, you can see their other show at the Gilbert Street Hotel on 8 March. They will play twice that evening. There are still tickets available for their second show of the night at 9:30pm. Tickets cost $27.50 plus any booking fees. You can purchase your tickets here.
You can also read our article with 22 must-see shows at Adelaide Fringe here.