Caroline Nin takes the stage in long white dress – statuesque, supported by a trimmed-down band of piano, bass, drums and trumpet.
The show began half-spoken, half-sung, in a manner that reminded me of the Grace Jones style of a couple of decades back. Indeed, the stylistic echoes came again later in the first half as Nin performed the Jones song “Strange (I’ve Seen That Face Before)”.
There was an eclectic mix of songs: “I Will Survive” got a run, sung in French. And the mixture feeling was reinforced when Nin left the stage for a costume change halfway through and reappeared in black hotpants, fishnet stockings (brand new – no snags), and diamond necklace and heavy ear-drops: a blend of glamour, informal and off-the-rack tarty.
Nin walked the audience, flirted with the one selected jovial male, swivelled her hips but without that much conviction, and got the audience to clap along. It was all well-rehearsed and put together.
The best moments came towards the end of the show with some more sultry, perhaps more traditional, French cabaret numbers. Here Nin showed she could not only belt out a number, but sing one, too. Her voice at this halcyon section was husky and defined, but somehow still seemed as if she had sung the songs so many times she could do them in her sleep.
She didn’t bother to leave the stage before suggesting an encore. The number was Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”. In hindsight, no prizes for guessing that one. The crowd lifted. This was the kind of thing they had come to see.
Caroline Nin told us that for nine years she sang at the Lido in the Champs Elysees in Paris, two shows a day (so therefore she must be good). And good she is, but still we came away with the feeling of not having been grabbed by the performance, asking the question whether it is possible to be cool and sultry and still give a performance your all.
The persona of the artiste could have been more refined and defined, energy levels higher. But still an interesting show.
The final performance of Caroline Nin’s Songs and Stories of the Paris Lido is tonight (Saturday) at the Space Theatre.
For more stories and reviews, see InDaily’s 2014 Adelaide Cabaret Festival hub.
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