Words & Pictures By James Kendall (Brighton Source Magazine)
As our devotion to the imported FIP radio station proves, we love a bit of musique Français in our little English coastal city. There’s something so sensual yet sophisticated about traditional French music. In fact it’s so good it’s no wonder they’re so rubbish at rock and pop. And Brighton has the perfect venue for classy French singers to perform and francophiles to hang out – The Paris House.
Formerly an unremarkable boozer called The Jugglers, looking around as people settle in for this second musical night since opening in March not much leaps out as having changed. But in terms of atmosphere it’s another country. It’s like being in the movie Amélie – suave, quirky and oh so French – we half expect Audrey Tatou to breeze in and fix our love lives. It works so well because the effect is built up of subtle touches – those stemmed spherical lights on the bar, the elegantly scrawled menu boards.
As Lo Polidoro steps to the microphone it’s feels just like being in a late night café bar in Montmartre. She is instantly charming, with a speaking voice that drips like honey, a characteristic that carries over to her gorgeous singing as soon as her accordion player starts the Gallic music. The sound is so authentic you’d never guess that he is English.
Although all the lyrics are – of course – in French, it’s easy to get pulled into Lo’s performance as she’s so dramatic in her delivery. It’s like she’s acting out a play, so expressive is her face. “I don’t do that on purpose!” she laughs when we ask her in the gap between sets. “I’m just well into the songs. Have I been singing these songs since I was tiny? Not at all. I hated them. I was into psychedelic music. It took three British guys to say, hey, how about we start a French chanteuse band. I shuddered but then once I started I realised that the songs were beautiful.”
When we ask her what the songs are about are she tells us, “They’re all about love – love and naughty boys!” which might explain why she’s smiling so much when she’s singing them. There are also smiles between her and her accordion player, a real connection that comes out in their music. It’s no surprise to see them steal a kiss between performances and it turns out they are a couple brought together by music they perform.
It’s just another touch that adds to the loveliness of an evening that includes a delightful old French couple, the man painting the performance as it happens, the woman singing along with a young Frenchman with dreadlocks. There’s great food (platters or cheese and meat) and carefully chosen wine served in carafes and beer and cider served only in halves, a la Français. Layer on top a completely captivating performance from Lo that travels perfectly from dark and sultry to jaunty and fun and you have an evening that would have us down the travel agent booking a one-way ticket to the Gare Du Nord. If The Paris House wasn’t so convenient of course.