Frances Ruffelle’s well timed new album I Say Yeh-Yeh has just been released around the 30th anniversary of Les Misersbles (in which she originated the role of Eponine). The album features an original French song ‘L’un Vers L’autre’ that was written for Les Mis but cut from the English production. It also includes a reworked version of the classic song ‘On My Own’.
To help launch the album, Frances is playing a string of concerts at the Crazy Coqs cabaret room in Brasserie Zedel, Picadilly Circus. The setting is perfect for the album which is described as a joyful and nostalgic European road trip evoking Frances’s love of Paris.
With the set list written in chalk on a blackboard, the band write their own names when they walk on stage and special guests (Rowan John, Gwyneth Herbert) names are written on at the time of their performance as well as the encores. This gives a lovely reminder of what a creative process writing songs and putting together shows is and brings everyone on stage together.
The hour long set is comprised mostly of songs from the new album including a beautiful rendition of ‘Paris Summer’ with Rowan John, ‘Bang Bang’ and a swinging new version of Edith Piaf’s ‘La Foule’. The great thing about this album and the performance is that whilst 80% of it is in French, there is enough english interspersed to make you feel like you know exactly what is going on. I don’t often used the old cliche phrase of ‘I could listen to them sing the phone book’ but I could truly listen to Frances sing anything. She is a captivating performer who bounds around the stage like a school girl in the playground, she is completely at home.
To Frances Ruffelle I say yeh-yeh! The easiest five stars I have given in a long time.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Frances Ruffelle is playing at The Crazy Coqs until Saturday 17 October. The album I Say Yeh-Yeh is out now.