International chanteuse Adrienne Haan likes to try something different and has the skill for such explorations. As she explained to her Metropolitan Room audience last night (March 28), she grew up loving the classic French chansons, which have a place in her much-praised performance repertoire. But she also grew up during the age of rock, which she liked too. So it occurred to her to try merging both, something she says that to the best of her knowledge nobody else has done.
The result is her new “Rock Le Cabaret!” show, which I viewed last night. Here’s how it works: She takes songs like the traditional “Padam Padam” and “La Vie en Rose” and gives them a rock interpretation, enhanced resoundingly in arrangements played by a talented musical group consisting of Karen Dryer, musical director and pianist, Mike Campenni on drums, Adam Kabak on electric bass, Branden Palmer on electric guitar and Kyle Schweizer on tenor sax, flute and keyboards.
Mighty rock crescendos filled the room as Haan applied her strong voice, sometimes in competition with the power of the excellent band. Haan fulfilled her goal of merging the elements with resounding success in the context what she was attempting.
Will it please every taste? That depends on one’s affection for rock. Those who favor it should get a kick at what Haan has accomplished. As usual, she is a polished performer who dominates a stage and communicates intimately with her audience. As I have said before, I consider her one of the best of contemporary cabaret artists.
Unlike Haan, I did not grow up in the age of enthusiasm for rock. I’m more of a traditionalist. When she sang Jacques Brel’s “Le Port D’Amsterdam” in a more customary way at first, it was greatly to my liking and an example of what Haan usually does with such material. However, that was not the point of the evening.
Haan, dressed more like a rocker than in the sophisticated outfits she usually wears, impressively built her concept to the fullest and succeeded in involving the audience to the point of getting people on their feet and clapping to the rhythm. Her selections included, among others, “Milord,” “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” “Sous Le Ciel de Paris,” “La Bohème,” “La Chanson Des Vieux Amants,” and for her encore a rousing, rock “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.”
She definitely achieved her designed heights in this inventive, exploratory merger. Let’s just say the joint rocked. (Haan returns to the Metropolitan Room on May 3 for her tribute to the great American songbook.) At the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-206-0440. Reviewed March 29, 2017.