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.

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• NNF11 runs from May 6 to 21. You can book online at www.nnfestvial.org.uk/nnf11, by phone on 01603 766400 or at the Norwich Theatre Royal box office

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