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Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Friday 26th June 2015

Alongside Adelaide's Cabaret Festival runs the Cabaret Fringe, starting a week earlier and finishing a week later, giving cabaret enthusiasts a chance to see a considerable number of talented people from around Australia. Jen de Ness hails from Western Australia and is appearing at La Boheme, Adelaide's year round centre for cabaret and the organisers of the Cabaret Fringe, a favourite spot for cocktails or a glass of wine in the evening, offering modern jazz on Wednesday evenings and Brazilian music on Thursday evening, with free entry.

Jen de Ness is a singer and songwriter, co-composing with her husband, Bill Atkinson, who accompanies her on guitar for this performance. Many years ago jazz musicians discovered that they could blend Latin American music with their own, and Latin Jazz was born, becoming a very popular genre. Jen de Ness is musically fluent in a number of genres and this event, See Things Like You, was based around the concept of The Green Tile Tango Club, and the people who loved and lost there, allowing the duo to cover jazz, blues, and a range of Latin rhythms.

Her performance included a few standards, as well as her own songs, providing a great variety of music. She began with a very sultry rendition of Peggy Lee's big hit, Fever, to get the ball rolling, complete with finger snapping by the audience.

As Bill Atkinson set up a Latin riff on guitar she explained how the imaginary Tango club came into existence, following a night out at a real club. This eased its way into the opening number telling of the club, with backing vocals by Atkinson, and the audience. From that introduction came a series of songs about the people who frequent the club, and how they relate to one another. Esther wants Jack but everybody wants to dance with here, except Jack.

There is the man who just sits and watches. During this number I found myself recalling the marvellous work of Sergio Mendez and his groups, the superb guitar work and the vocal harmonies of this duo triggering a fond memory.

There is Jackie, who has been dumped by Pierre, and then Gershwin's The Man I Love is another standard that gets a facelift, in a subtle rendition. Could Esther find love with Michel? Can Jack win her back after running around with other women, or is he too late now that she has met Michel? The intriguing stories continue, followed by a cleverly arranged Latin version of Cry Me a River.

As Jackie believes that she has found a way to get over Pierre, we suddenly discover that it is time to close the club and go home, the audience singing along again on the final number.

The whole idea of a performance where songs of love and loss are related to various characters, all within one venue, makes for a very solid cabaret show. It is, of course, the excellent song-writing, the very fine guitar playing of Bill Atkinson, the magnificent voice of Jen de Ness, along with her story-telling skills, building a narrative that includes plenty of humour, and audience involvement without tears, that makes this such a special production. Watch out for a return visit, and be sure to get tickets.

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