Some thirteen years ago a French lady teaching English in her home town of Nîmes decided that, at the age of 32, it was time to move further north. And so Flossie Malavialle packed her bags and left the beautiful Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France to settle on the southern slopes of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Like you do!
To be fair, it was intended to be a temporary reversal of her situation. To spend a year teaching French in a British school as a way of improving her own command of the English language.
In the event, however, what she actually improved was her command of the Geordie dialect and as a result they wouldn’t let her back into France like! No no, that last bit’s a lie of course; she stayed here because she preferred the weather! No no. Actually, I think that must be a lie too!
Anyway. What really happened is that she began turning up at local folk clubs in the North East where the audiences became captivated, not only by her beautiful singing voice, but by her wonderfully mellifluous accent that was a heterogeneous mixture of French and Geordie. So much so, that she was able to give up teaching and embark on a career as a folk singer.
Folk singer is perhaps the wrong term, for Flossie’s repertoire comprises an eclectic mix of folk, blues, pop and rock ‘n roll. All covers. Flossie doesn’t write songs. Personally, I find that quite refreshing. For much as I admire singer songwriters, an evening of songs you’ve never heard before, however rich in their diversity, can rarely keep the whole audience enthralled for an entire evening.
For her live gigs Flosie pulls together material from the ten albums she has released in as many years. I’ve seen her twice now. Both shows featured a totally different collection of songs and I love the way she delivers each one with her own unique interpretation. Both times there were at least three numbers in French and last night my favourite of those was the original version of Autumn Leaves.
Above all she is an entertainer. Flossie doesn’t just introduce her songs, she has tales to tell, not just about the songs but about her life too. In fact, by the end of the evening it’s like you’ve known her forever. Her guitar playing style is relaxed and faultless, without being pretentious or flashy and her voice is that of a songbird. It is easy to see why she has such a strong following.
This was my first visit to The Hungry Horse Folk Club in Ellesmere Port. What an excellent venue the Whitby Sports and Social Club is! Because we arrived a few minutes late, Jayne and I took our seats in the back row of what must have been an audience of a hundred or so. The acoustics were great and to be fair, their sound system was spot on.
Club regulars Dawn and Alan (who actually hail from Sunny Rhyl) treated us to a lovely half dozen numbers during the interval between Flossie’s two sets.
Altogether it were a canny evening’s entertainment like! (Whoops, it’s catching).
Check out the gig guide on Flossie’s web site and if there is a gig in your area, you really must go to it. And if the nearest gig it outside of your area, then damn well go to that! I guarantee you won’t regret it.
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