At the end of a sweltering day, Pinky Flat was a welcoming oasis of flowers, picnic rugs, grass and trees for So Frenchy So Chic. Having my priorities in order, the first stop was the bar for a glass of good sparkling, followed quickly by collection of a cheese hamper. Because, if you can’t have cheese for dinner at a French festival, I don’t know when you can.
Similar to 2018, the festival space was generous. A long table for dining set up under the trees, food stalls catering to Francophile tastes with a selection of raclette, croque monsieur, croissants and crepes, Algerian rice and plenty of superb French cheese. Missing this year was the lipstick bar and fresh flower crowns. Picnic rugs were scattered all of the way up the riverbank with great views of the stage and plenty of room to move. Nothing felt squished or rushed.
I had missed the first few acts of the night, DJ Mike Gurrieri, Nadeah and Clea Vincent, but settled into place during Clara Luciani’s set as she was calling the early evening audience to the stage, arguing that she had travelled 24 hours for this and needed some friends to join her. They did, and were rewarded with a sensuous solo song that was drenched with emotion and Clara’s glorious voice with its woodwind rasp. The slow interlude over, she turned up the groove and moved into rocky Monster of Love, showing her guitar skills and a few synchronised dance moves with her fellow band members. Catchy tune La Baie was a set highlight, with a disco-tinged groove that made it impossible to stay still, and a cover of Lana Del Ray’s Blue Jeans wrapped up her set perfectly.
Next artist on the line up, Camille, has been on my list of artists to see since she dropped her album Le Fil in 2003. It was worth the wait and I can only say that she epitomises the joy that can be felt through music and movement.
Camille’s songs are heavily percussive and the rhythm section was strong with an array of drums and a massive gong, joined by a synthesiser and three wonderful back up singers. The harmonies and syncopation throughout the set kept energy high from start to finish and never ceased to surprise.
Camille’s voice is limitless in its capabilities, ranging from angel to soul queen to growling beast she embodies every emotion vocally. All the while she dances. Sometimes delicately and choreographed with her back up singers, other times manically jumping all over the stage or writhing on the floor. Nothing is off limits or forced and every moment draws the audience in deeper to a performance that simply captivates. It’s hard to know what comes first – the music or the movement.
Set highlights included Home is Where it Hurts, Ilo Veyou, the best cover of Too Drunk to Fuck I’ve ever heard, and Ta Doleur, but the truth is this was a performance of pure art from start to finish and we were lucky for every minute.
The last artist of the night was Yelle, who promised a dance party and didn’t let us down. She wore an amazing glittering gold jumpsuit and bounced non-stop through her set. Accompanied by synth and drums, Yelle’s voice was just right for the high-energy house music they were pumping out. She was great at keeping the crowd dancing and even got everyone rolling their hips, causing giggles all around.
So Frenchy So Chic certainly got the mix right once again this year. The vibe it was enjoyable and laid back, inclusive and fun and entertainment hit the spot. Without a doubt, I’ll be back again next year.
Live Review By Sarah Martin