Sydney’s cabaret lovers, jazz aficionados and ‘little sparrow’ fanatics were offered a rare treat when Nikki Nouveau brought her Edith Piaf tribute to The Basement. Nouveau has been winning over Melbourne audiences throughout the year with No Regrets – The Edith Piaf Story.
From early on in the performance, it is obvious that this is a sincere and well considered tribute to an artist Nouveau has great appreciation for. She steers clear of fluffiness and gimmicks in order to produce a respectful and entertaining set. Accompanied by Marcello Maio on piano and accordion and Natalija May on violin, this show doesn’t go over-the-top in providing an authentic musical experience which drips with talent and skill.
Nouveau’s wisest move may have been the decision not to flat-out impersonate Piaf, but to place herself as one artist paying homage to another. From the Piaf-inspired fashion cues displayed over two outfits, to the gradual incorporation of hand gestures which mirror Piaf’s own performance evolution – and of course, her stunning vocal range, delivered in both English and French.
She takes the audience on a musical journey through songs right from the earliest days of Piaf’s singing career, when she was singing on street corners, through to the peak of her career as the toast of Paris and New York, and her tragic and untimely death. Along the way she speaks about Piaf’s greatest loves, losses, and intense loneliness. This is a history lesson for those of us who are less well versed on Piaf’s life and work, and a delightful retelling for the die-hard fans.
Sydney would be lucky to have this sumptuous cabaret grace our city again. (AM)