Crawdaddy, Dublin, 5 November 2004
A bizarre bossanova gig gets erotique in the Crawdaddy, when French act Nouvelle Vague come to Dublin to play their versions of classic new wave songs like 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', 'Guns of Brixton' and 'Making Plans for Nigel'.
The CLUAS Verdict?
6 out of 10
Nouvelle Vague is a French project created by Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux. Tanslating as 'New Wave' in French, it's the title for a revisit to a number of new wave tracks from Joy Division to XTC in a bossanova jazz and early sixties pop kitsch style. On paper this sounds unbearable but in effect, the results are quite beautiful. The restyled songs have been carefully selected to really make use of the luscious vocals. With an air of the Cocteau Twins and Stereolab at their sweetest, songs like 'Making Plans for Nigel' and 'Friday Night, Saturday Morning' seem to carry a completely different meaning.
Disappointingly there isn't a full band tonight, but the predictable appearance of a laptop and keyboard. However, Melanie Pain (who has sung with M83) and Camille (just two of the eight singers used on the recording) manage to give the crowd enough eye candy and frolicking to keep everyone's attention.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it's dull and a little cringe inducing. The Clash's 'Guns of Brixton', PiL's '(This is not a) love song' and a version of the Sister's of Mercy's 'Marian' are truly haunting and beautiful, while 'Teenage Kicks' and Depeche Mode's 'I Just Can't Get Enough' are ridiculously kitsch. One suspects that this is more of a poor selection of song then a poor performance, but it sours the delicacy of the other songs.
Things take another, more bizarre turn, when Camille, dressed like a vaudeville banshee, takes the mic to sing the Dead Kennedy's 'Too Drunk to F*ck'. She delivers a vicious take on the song, full of amateur dramatics, which eventually lead to throwing pints of beer over the audience, herself and the rest of the band. She wails and flails around the stage and the crowd eggs her on. It's an unexpected sight for a bossanova gig - but it's a good version of the song and a break from the saccharine.
The real punch is delivered with heart breaking versions of 'Love will Tear Us Apart' and The Cure's 'A Forest', which sound all the more poignant sung in their breathy style, innocent, stark and desperate. Unfortunately however, the girls start to get a little carried away in the emotion of it all and begin flirting, coyly with each other - sharing mics, mouths touching, as a faux-lesbian act begins to emerge.
Naturally the male members of the audience are having a ball, but for the rest of us it's somewhat contrived. They can both sing really well and have an erotique French chanteuse air about them without having to resort to this. Should they manage to get their live act together, Nouvelle Vague have the potential to bring something really interesting into modern music, allowing these songs make their return with a new breath of life.
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