Review: Caroline Nin, Songs and Stories of the Paris Lido
Known for its sophisticated nightlife, the Champs Elysees is home to the Paris Lido, the world’s most renowned brulesque and cabaret. Famous for its topless showgirls, the bluebells, and its incredible performers who have included all the greats from Marlene Dietrich to Piaf, to Shirley Maclaine and Liza Minnelli, the Lido is the ultimate gig for any performer.
In 2005 French singer Caroline Nin, climbed the stairs to the Lido, entered the backstage area and joined its famous alumni. Asked to headline the glamorous revue, Bonheur, for years Nin would perform night after night to an audience in the 1000s.
Tonight at the Adelaide Cabaret festival Nin attempts to give us a taste of what it was like performing at the infamous venue, as she calls up songs from her past that showcase her smoky-tinged jazz drawl to perfection.
Having shaken off the jetlag, Nin is primed to deliver a celebration of the fabulous city of Paris; with its rainy weather and smoky bars and performers straining to experience a life where reality and fantasy blur. Her repertoire includes the usual suspects such as Kurt Weill and Jacques Brel, as well as a few surprise inclusions such as Grace Jones’ 'Strange’. Each song is given Nin’s unique interpretation so it's not merely a reproduction of a classic.
Nin is in a playful mood tonight, and she wants the audience to play with her. She slinks through the tables, sizing them up, urging them not to look at their shoes and encouraging them to join in the fun with her. An attempt at a sing-a-long with ‘Big Spender’ goes awry but Nin is undeterred and when it comes to singing ‘Johnny’ she has her target eyed up and he plays along with gusto.
Understanding that a good cabaret show must embrace variety, her music choice is eclectic and her persona shifts from vamp to cheeky vixen to melancholy depending on the song.
Definite highlights were her rendition of ‘Johnny’ and ‘Undress Me’ and the Kurt Weill staple 'Alabama Song'. While the audience couldn't get enough of the encore numbers ‘Non Je Ne Regrette Rien’ and ‘La Vie en Rose’.
Interestingly Nin credits the Adelaide Cabaret Festival as giving her first big break twelve years ago, and it’s clear in the space between then and now she has grown to become a formidable performer. And certainly one who will be welcomed back whenever she chooses.
Watch Caroline Nin performs Non Je Ne Regrette Rien