Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: Helene: Bonsoior Monsieur Nightfall, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jim Gilchrist.
Having re-invented herself from a previous incarnation as “gypsy noir” performer Patti Plinko, the singer now known as Helene has been through the mill, by her own account, and her voice, her candour and raw unleashing of pent-up emotion certainly reflects it. She’s accompanied by a neat five-piece swing band of trumpets, guitars and bass, but opens the show unaccompanied except for her own guitar, emerging from the shadows to give husky and heavily accented delivery to a song about “young love for sale”, a reflection, like much of her repertoire, of her period living rough on the streets of Paris and London.
Her style of grungy chanson was pretty full-on much of the time, from throaty Gallic growl to a desperately raw outpouring of lyrics that slurred into scat singing, as in the catchy Madame Sunshine. A melancholy cover of the old hit Blue Moon led into serious chanson territory with a lingeringly intense version of Jacques Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas, although one couldn’t help thinking that at times she just tries too hard, laying on the angst that bit too thick.
And she really needs someone to show her how to get some rhythm out of those shakers during the band’s up-beat closing calypso.
Assembly Roxy (Venue 139) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 26 August 2015
Edinburgh Festivals 2015: complete coverage
• Get everything on our Festivals homepage – on desktop, mobile or tablet
• Looking for reviews? Check out the latest Scotsman reviews – or browse all the reviews ranked by star rating
• Don’t miss a thing: sign up to our daily email newsletter
• Watch all the latest videos from the #WOWwagon
• Get distracted by our Festival Blog
• Check out today’s half-price ticket deals
• Follow our social accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – and join the conversation with #WOWfest
• Download the WOW247 app for iOS and Android