Review: Benoit Viellefon & His Orchestra, Speigeltent, Chapelfield Gardens

Mesdames and messieurs – if you missed Benoit Viellefon's festival show, you missed a treat.

The rising star brought charm, romance and French chanson to the Speigeltent in Norwich's Chapelfield Gardens on Saturday night. The London-based singer and guitarist weaved together sultry swing with nostalgic dance music from the 1930s and 40s.

Opening with a 1941 track called Daphne, feet began tapping at 10.45pm. Two hours later the entire tent was a swaying mass of dancing bodies. There were beautiful renditions of Pennies from Heaven, All of Me, and Dream a Little Dream of Me. M Viellefon and his experienced orchestra made sure the tempo did not drop.

Couples who clearly knew a thing or two about dancing took to the floor throughout the night, and a highly-charged version of King of the Swingers resulted in a group jive.

There was swing, quickstep, maybe even cha-cha and the hint of a rumba. It was cabaret jazz, but potently feel-good; at times like strolling down a Parisian street, then finding yourself in the middle of a 1940s dance hall.

The band was incredibly versatile – able to leap from Dick Dale's iconic Misirlou and finishing the evening with a lullaby version of Charlie Chaplin's Smile.

We'd all be much happier if Benoit's music was the soundtrack to our lives. And, in any case, any man that wears a white bow tie is all right by me.

Most Read

• NNF11 runs from May 6 to 21. You can book online at, by phone on 01603 766400 or at the Norwich Theatre Royal box office

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter