Concert Review: Flossie Malavialle and EnChanté
Flossie Malavialle and EnChanté – Lichfield Guildhall – February 7th 2014
Reviewd by: Ben Macnair
Lichfield Arts provided an early Valentine’s Day treat for lovers of fine music when the guitarist and singer Flossie Malavialle returned to the Guildhall. The scene was set with the room laid out cabaret-style, complete with flowers on the tables. A specially selected range of cocktails was available and there was a hint of Gallic romance in the air.
Local support act EnChanté provided some fine entertainment with a mixture of their own songs and music from the Chanson tradition. The group, led by singer and songwriter Jocelyne Thompson, featured husband Nick on double bass and classical guitarist Ron Thomas.
The trio certainly lived up their name, enchanting the audience. Their material ranged from the tragic Folk narrative of ‘Mary Ann’ about a young girl who killed her abusive father, to lighter songs such as ‘Dancing In The Hall’ and ‘Farmer Boy’ – a song about first love. EnChanté also covered the work of Jacques Brel, but the highlight of their set was a haunting rendition of the Jazz standard ‘Autumn Leaves’.
Flossie Malavialle is a popular live draw, having built up a solid reputation supporting many well-known names on the Folk and Roots circuit. Her melodic, accomplished guitar style suits her pure, strong voice and her stage presence is enhanced by an accent that is an intriguing mix of French with a Darlington twang. Her set was wide-ranging, taking in songs from traditional English and Irish idioms and her own French background, as well as more contemporary Blues and Country music.
She opened with ‘Dark Horse Dancing’ by Keith Donnelly with whom she has toured recently, whilst the Irish song ‘Teddy O’Neil’ was a plaintive tale of longing, and her full vocal talent was shown during Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie En Rose’. Flossie bought humour into Willie Nelson’s ‘On the Road Again’, during which she encouraged the audience to join in with the solos. Two ballads finished the first half, with sensitive singing and playing during ‘I Know You By Heart’ and the traditional ‘From Funny Cross’.
Not only a talented musician, Flossie is also a raconteur, and her tales of life as a musician, teaching French with her accent and musings on insurance adverts lent a lightness of touch to proceedings.
During the second half, she covered more musical ground, ranging from Jacques Brel to Roberta Flack. The McGarrigle sisters’ ‘Go, Leave’ was well performed, the ache in the song apparent in this performance, and the Bluesy side of Flossie’s voice and guitar work was in evidence for Bonnie Raitt’s ‘The Road’s My Middle Name’. The audience joined in with ‘Killing Me Softly’ whilst the work of songwriter Pete Abbott was amply illustrated in ‘Almost A Year’.
Flossie finished her set with a fine performance of Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World’.
This was a lovely and unusual concert, full of charm and fine musical performances from all four musicians, and showing the Guildhall to its best advantage.