HOT PRESS Journalist Adrienne Murphy
Adrienne Murphy, Hot Press magazine journalist, writes about The Jeanie Johnston Concert
“Even before we hear the resonant voice of Caroline Moreau, the joy and command with which she takes the stage signals the French chanteuse as a natural diva. Tonight she plays on Dublin’s River Liffey, aboard the replica of the 19th century tall ship, the Jeanie Johnson. The ship’s low-ceilinged wooden interior is old-world and bohemian, the perfect backdrop for Moreau’s choice of French folk-songs and sea-shanties, seasoned with timeless classics from the French chanson tradition.
For this special event, Moreau is accompanied by Ariel Hernandez, the Argentinian guitarist/arranger who features prominently on her new album, Amour Toujours etc. Reminiscent of a beautiful piratess, Moreau opens with a heartmelting rendition of ‘Avec Le Temps’ by Leo Ferre, followed on by four smooth and sultry Serge Gainsbourg songs. Jacque Brel is well-represented with ‘Ne me quitte pas’, ‘La chanson des vieux amants’ and a breathtakingly passionate ‘Amsterdam’, while Edith Piaf is transmitted via Moreau’s stirring versions of ‘Padam’, ‘Johnny’ and a comic translation of ‘No Regrets’ sung in English (hilariously pedestrian compared to the French).
With the skill of a stand-up comedian, Caroline Moreau charms the audience between songs with her extrovert personality, recounting funny tales of her experiences as a Frenchwoman living in Ireland. The punters get an opportunity to participate during ‘Rossignolet’, a beautiful medieval a capella, whose chorus the singer expertly teaches us to intone as an accompaniment to her voice, guided by her hand movements during the song. The effect, particularly in our archaic surroundings, is magical.
While many of the songs Moreau sings are well-known French classics, she washes them through with a powerful fresh energy that emanates both from her own vocal and musical dexterity, and the intense exuberance and passion that she feels for the chanson tradition. This skilful enthusiasm, combined with the French singer’s strong feminine presence and innate joie de vivre, create a live performance that is aesthetic and uplifting – a sensory pleasure from beginning to end.”