Review by Lauren Sherritt
With a long developed reputation of class and French charisma, you could guess that tardy is not high on the list of characteristics organisers of the famed So Frenchy So Chic touring shows would want it to be associated with. Forty-five minutes after the last show of the 2012 tour was supposed to begin, however, Brisbane audiences could have been excused for thinking it while they waited outside the closed doors of the theatre.
After finally inviting us to file in and take our seats the bad news was broken; Asa, one half of the night’s double bill, was very ill and after failing to be able to complete sound check she had regretfully decided to pull out of the show. This left patrons with the choice of leaving, full refund in hand, or staying for an extended set by the show’s other half, French American band Moriarty.
While some did choose to walk and have their seats further toward the front happily filled by audience members who were initially in the back, the majority stayed to greet the well known blues band with cheers and smiles. Lead singer Rosemary Standley introduced the act, emotion evident in her voice as she dedicated their set to sick peer Asa. While it had evidently been a rushed preparation for their now twice as long set, Moriarty joked their way through the mix up in routine as they played a highly entertaining show.
Starting with “She’s Going to War”, the band comprised of a double bass, percussion, bass and electric guitars, the occasional keyboard, brilliantly played harmonicas and strong group vocals, showed off an extraordinary amount of energy for self described “jet lagged and weary travellers”. Standley oozed sensuality as they kicked off the slower song “Cotton Flower”, and the band began to look very comfortable on stage after their unexpectedly early beginning.
It wasn’t only front-woman Rosemary on show throughout the night, Moriarty proved that they are truly a musical ensemble, with each musician showcasing breathtaking talent on their instruments. For the most part, Stephan Zimmerli played the always favourite double bass and also chipped in a joke or jab at any quiet interval. Vincent Talpaert on drums was definitely the conductor of the band, though very much keeping himself inconspicuous off to the side, the rest of the band members looked to him for guidance on everything from the revised set list to keeping the beat. Charles Carmignac wowed the crowd with not only his guitar playing skills but his smooth dance moves and surprise whale noises, while Arthur B. Gillete, who with long sandy hair and a floppy gardener’s hat could easily be mistaken for Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, exuded cheerfulness and an evident love of making music. The highlight of the night was witnessing the talents of Thomas Puéchavy on the harmonica. Wearing a harmonica belt (similar to a tool belt, his held at least eight different harmonicas in leather pockets around his waist), he masterfully played harmonies and solos, adding a brilliant depth to the band’s sound.
After playing fourteen songs, Moriarty were cheered back on stage for an encore, any disappointment from the earlier events in the evening wiped from the audience’s mind. Finishing beautifully with an unplugged musical rendition of Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann’s “Long is the Night”, which Moriarty turned into a soft, crooning lullaby, the band took one final bow in front of a thrilled audience.
Review by Lauren Sherritt
Read our review of So Frenchy So Chic: Nouvelle Vague, Berry @ The Powerhouse, Brisbane June 14, 2010
So Frenchy So Chic In The Park @ Werribee Park Mansion, Melbourne – 15th January 2012
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All photos by Naomi Rahim