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Frances Ruffelle: I Say Yeh-Yeh review at London’s Crazy Coqs – ‘utterly captivating’

Frances Ruffelle: I Say Yeh-Yeh at Crazy Coqs. Photo: James Gourley/REX Shutterstock Frances Ruffelle: I Say Yeh-Yeh at Crazy Coqs. Photo: James Gourley/REX Shutterstock
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Following on from the critical and commercial successes of Beneath the Dress and Paris Original, I Say Yeh-Yeh is a live concert performance of Frances Ruffelle’s new album of the same name. Despite the title, referencing the Georgie Fame standard, I Say Yeh-Yeh continues Ruffelle’s love affair with all things French, and especially Parisian. In the appropriately Gallic setting of the Crazy Coqs, Ruffelle weaves a storyline around her set list; a tale of love and lust that flares then quickly fades against the backdrop of the City of Light.

Ruffelle explains that her passion for French culture predates Les Miserables (Belle and Sebastian is cited as an early influence), and the set list includes two exquisitely unsullied Piaf classics, Ruffelle’s own Le Brasier – a big hit in France – and the marvellous, percussion-heavy La Foule. Two duets add further texture to the narrative, including the passionate Paris Summer with Ruffelle’s enigmatic new discovery Rowan John and a lively exchange with Sabrina Aloueche, raising hell with the rousing title number, which is itself mashed-up with Bardot’s Ca Pourrait Changer.

Of course, many people will remember Ruffelle for creating the role of Eponine in the original West End and Broadway productions of Les Miserables. Thankfully, Ruffelle embraces this memory and includes a new, mature blues arrangement of On My Own that ties in perfectly with the timbre of this show, and the song L’un Vers L’autre, which was written for Eponine but eventually cut.

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Verdict
Unique, unpredictable and yet utterly captivating, Paris has no greater ambassador in the UK than Frances Ruffelle
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