|Lara Goodridge (Lulu) Abby Dobson (Baby)|
The Famous Spiegeltent, Canberra 5th March 2016
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
There's something very special about relaxing in The Famous Spiegeltent on a warm Canberra Autumn evening being serenaded by two charismatic faux French chanteuses and four superb musicians.
An accomplished ensemble, fronted by Abby Dobson (Baby) and Lara Goodridge (Lulu), Baby et Lulu specialise in French salon songs. Some are classics by Piaf, Brassons or Gainsborough, but mostly they are songs written by Dobson or Goodridge, which come with their own back- stories.
An informal, laid-back atmosphere was quickly established with their opening song, “On the Banks of Old Paree”, and Dobson and Goodridge soon had the audience under their spell, with their ear-caressing harmonies, and playful French-accented banter.
The carefully crafted music arrangements for each song were particularly satisfying. Unexpected instrumentation continually caught the ear, sometimes embedded in Marcello Maio’s superb piano embellishments, or his spirit-lifting piano –accordion contributions. Then there was the harmonising of Goodridge’s violin and Matt Ottignon’s clarinet, the elegant classical guitar of Julian Curwin, and even Dobson’s tasteful kazoo interpolations for Goodridge’s “The Emptiness and the View”, the skilful musicianship of the ensemble was a constant delight .
Mark Harris added to the pleasure by demonstrating that he was not only a fine double bass player, but also an accomplished comedian often convulsing the audience with his cheeky asides, while carefully avoiding distracting from the music.
Georges Brasson’s “There is No Happy Love” received a moving performance as did Dean Redding’s “When You Close the Door”. Piaf’s “Padam” was thrilling, but it was the songs written by Abby Dobson and Lara Goodridge which provided the real interest in this program.
Dobson’s jaunty “C’est La Top”, Goodridge’s “I want to Make Love” and the particularly lovely “Adieu”, inspired by the death of Dobson’s aunt, all provided convincing demonstrations of their extraordinary mastery of the genre, while providing a champagne entrée to a lovely autumn evening.
This review also appears in Australian Arts Review - www.artsreview.com.au