Lisette and Her Faux Manouches – Cabaret Fringe

Lisetteand Her Faux Manouches Cabaret Fringe 2010Presented by ActWrite and the Cabaret Fringe Festival
Reviewed Thurs 3rd June 2010

Venue: Nexus Cabaret, Lion Arts Centre, corner North Terrace and Morphett Street, Adelaide
Season: 8PM Fri 4th June at Nexus Cabaret, then Sun 20th and 27th June at The Whitmore Hotel
Duration: 2hrs, incl 15 min interval
Tickets: $25/conc $20
Bookings for all Cabaret Fringe shows: BASS 131 241 or

This group, whose name translates as fake gypsies, had sold out shows at the 2007 Cabaret Festival and at the 2010 Adelaide Fringe. Their performance is a packed two hours of songs in gypsy-jazz style that keeps toes tapping and smiles on the faces of the audience. The theme of the evening was love, in all of its forms.

If you are at all familiar with the Belgian gypsy guitarist, Django Reinhardt, and his musical partner, Stéphane Grappelli, then you will know the sound of gypsy-jazz, a style that came to prominence in Paris in the 1930s where they formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, making numerous highly successful recordings for the Decca recording company’s Ace of Clubs label before Reinhardt’s death at a young age.

This smoothly swinging style infuses all of the songs presented by Lisette and her five piece band, no matter what the source. Two guitars, bass, violin and accordion combine to give an authentic sound behind Lisette’s fine vocals. Lisette de la Rance of course, is Cat Lawrence who, with guitarist Michael Baldwin, or Michel Manouche, originally was a member of a group playing a decidedly different type of music, The Jo Jump Band. Hayley Purcell, violin, Bernadette Dempsey, accordion, John Denlay, guitar and Paul Jancovik, bass, complete the ensemble.

After the opening instrumental, Lisette appeared and gave a great rendition of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend. From there on it was just about anything goes, with a wonderful blend of comedy and song in a range of languages, including some quirky surprises. The music of Tom Waits sat alongside that of Belgian songwriter Jacques Brel and the tango, Jealousy, led into the theme from the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, all given the gypsy-jazz treatment, of course. I am sure Roy Orbison never thought his songs would be sung in Spanish and Tammy Winette’s Stand By your Man certainly makes for an interesting sing-a-long in Ukrainian as Country music becomes jazz.

The songs of Blossom Dearie are not heard much any more so it was a great pleasure to hear My Attorney, Bernie again, given a fine treatment by Lisette and the group. Even the closing number, My Way, didn’t make it without being translated and Dusty Springfield’s You Don’t Have to Say You love Me sounds great in French. This combination of five superb musicians and a terrific vocalist presenting some great songs in a very approachable style make for a relaxing and highly enjoyable evening and should be on your list of shows to see.

The big drawback to the evening was the incessant, loud chattering from the staff and their friends clustered around the bar, drinking. The louder the band played to try to drown them out, the louder they became, with loud bursts of laughter and occasional banging and clattering from behind the bar adding to the noise. They ignored filthy looks given them by many of the patrons who turned around to glare at them during the evening. They showed complete disrespect for both performers and audience. They even ignored Lisette’s comment from the stage about the excessive noise. Their behaviour was unforgivable and the staff members, in particular, should have known better.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.

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