Cabaret Festival Review: The Hot Sardines

Since 2007, the Hot Sardines have been performing their own take on classic jazz tracks with a Parisian flavour mixed amongst the New Orleans sound.


Presented by:Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Reviewed:  7 June 2019

Originating around the late 19th and early 20th century in New Orleans, jazz music has become a popular musical artform.  Having roots in blues and ragtime music, jazz has out-lasted several musical styles over the decades.  It can be used to express any emotion with its loose structure allowing a spontaneity other tunes in the genre lack.  It’s a perfect fit for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival with the Famous Spiegeltent an appropriate venue.  Since 2007, the Hot Sardines have been performing their own take on classic jazz tracks with a Parisian flavour mixed amongst the New Orleans sound.  Fronted by dynamic singer Elizabeth Bougerol, the eight-piece ensemble have scored an impressive array of accolades with their constant touring a testament to their popularity.

Those wanting sassy speak-easy style and melodic delights should find much to satisfy the musical tastes.  If music is meant to transport you to another era, then the Hot Sardines do that effortlessly.  One would think they were in an old-style Parisian cabaret venue or a New York jazz joint going by how well the group draws you in.  Ably supported by Evan Palazzo and the rest of the very talented group, Bougerol commanded the stage like many fabled singers of yesteryear.  Her vocals successfully teased out the nuances of each song from artists such as Cole Porter and Sophie Tucker.  Although most of the selected tracks were from over a century ago, their fresh and dynamic twist gave each of them a modern edge without diluting their original power.

The musical craftmanship of the Hot Sardines ensured each tune was just as captivating as the last.  What made their performance special was their use of simple instruments to present a polished show.  The inclusion of tap-dance gave a thriving beat throughout with the performer’s energy evident.  No one person can be singled out as all entered the spirit of the evening with gusto which the audience appreciated.  This was the Hot Sardines best attribute as they didn’t just perform with no audience interaction.  Even the occasional accident such as music sheets flying off the podium was used for good effect, proving even though they take the music seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously.

The barometer of a good performance is how the audience responds and judging by the Hot Sardines amazing artistry, they easily won people over.  The broad age group clearly appreciated their talents which did justice to the artists to whom they paid tribute.  Whilst the seating in the Spiegeltent felt like – excuse the pun – being squashed in like sardines, any discomfort was swiftly forgiven by the stirring vitality on stage.  All involved should be applauded for bringing these classic tunes back to life and ensuring they endure.  Given how they constantly tour world-wide with upcoming dates in Tokyo and Honolulu proves how popular they’ve become with all types of audiences.

The Hot Sardines gave it their all with the first of two Adelaide Cabaret Festival performances.  Their audience responded in kind with loud applause and plenty of raucous cheering. Hopefully they’ll swing by our way again soon as they are worth seeing for any jazz enthusiast and general music admirer alike.

Reviewed by: Patrick Moore

Twitter: @PatrickMoore14

Rating out of 5:  5

Venue: The Famous Spiegeltent

Season: 7 – 8 June 2019

Duration: 1 hr 10 mins.

Tickets: A Reserve – Adult: $64.90, A Reserve concession – $59.90

Bookings: Book online at or phone BASS on 131 246

Cabaret Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Famous Spiegeltent, Hot Sardines, Elizabeth Bougerol, Evan Palazzo

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