What a perfectly charming evening this turned out to be – a unique cabaret-style entertainment performed by the hugely talented trio of Bethany Jameson (vocals), Janet Beale (accordion, flute & saxophone) and Simon Newton (guitar & bass), in the  intimate surroundings of the delightful Shelley Theatre, a venue perfect for a show of this type.

The secret is, I think, in that very uniqueness; Bethany, who seems to become more and more French every time I see her, has developed a lovely, slightly ditzy character who is sometimes apparently not quite sure of her words, or what number might be coming next, and gets upset because Janet has changed into a rather beautiful dress – cue a quick rummage through the ‘dressing up’ box for something to rival it – and Simon isn’t wearing a bow tie.

Don’t be fooled – I suspect that every move, raised eyebrow and dithering moment has been well rehearsed and will reappear in tonight’s sold-out show at the same venue. But it’s those little things that are part of what makes this such a thoroughly enjoyable evening, with the audience being drawn into those events and being invited to relax and laugh along.

Perhaps the best example of this was during Simon’s superb solo, . As he played – and played – and played, pausing every now and then to yawn or scratch an imaginary itch, Bethany’s face was a picture as she sat on the edge of her chair poised to leap up as soon as the number finished.

Inviting the audience to join in certain numbers, with song sheets thoughtfully provided, also added to the fun, even though I’m sure I wasn’t the only one whose rarely-practiced French accent left a lot to be desired. I think I did a bit better with Joyeux Anniversaire (Happy Birthday to you and me!) as there were only a few words to worry about.

On a more serious note, the eclectic mix of numbers ranged from Piaf standards – La Vie En Rose, Milord and Non, Je Regrette Rien to name but a few – to Tom Waits’ Temptation (I loved the saxophone accompaniment), Manhattan Transfer’s Chanson D’Amour, Jacques Brel’s Amsterdam, the evocative Autumn Leaves and even the theme tune to ‘Allo ‘Allo. Without exception they were glorious. 

As I’ve already mentioned, tonight’s show is sold out or I would suggest that you should beat a path to the Shelley’s door. Just keep a look-out for this remarkable trio’s next performance because they’re well worth your support.


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