The Paris Combo quandary

24 March 2017 Blogger in Chief

I can’t be the only person to head home from one of Paris Combo’s Tasmanian shows, surprised to come away not smelling of Gauloises or Gitanes.

Paris Combo brings a global reputation and an ethnically rich valise full of influences – gypsy, Middle Eastern and Latino – that is as accomplished as it is irresistible.

This is top shelf French cabaret music and didn’t the local crowd love it!

And I loved the byplay between singer – chanteuse – Belle du Berry and the group’s pianist/trumpeter. Turns out he’s an Australian and, despite looking more French (Easter Island statue profile, fedora pulled down low) than any of his bandmates, he cracks wise in a dead flat Australian monotone. He is as dry as he is talented, frequently managing to play complicated trumpet melodies and piano parts at the same time. A most impressive performer.

But all the members of Paris Combo are impressive and their playing is dazzlingly good, as tight when swinging as subtle when playing something a little more ‘torch’. Brilliant playing.

The one element of discord was the venue.

I’ve seen some great performances in the Entertainment Centre at Wrest Point – concerts, comedy and more – and I like it as a venue, with its excellent sound and clear sightlines but it was nowhere near intimate enough for Paris Combo, whose five members are possibly used to playing gigs in rooms smaller than the stage they were occupying.

The initially-empty dance floor between performers and punters (at tables in the Tasman Room part of the venue, in the Plenary seating at the back) seemed to absorb a fair bit of the group’s energy until a few – and then many – brave souls got up for a dance.

It didn’t gel for me and I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to think of somewhere that would’ve been a better choice… how about Wrest Point’s Showroom? Two shows to cover costs and a far more intimate atmosphere. It’s an under-utilised gem, that room.

Next time, perhaps. And I do hope there’s a next time: Paris Combo is world class.