Thursday 7 February 2008

but now I am jaded....

Nouvelle Vague @ Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 7th February 2008

Nouvelle Vague: "A blanket term coined by critics for a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s, influenced (in part) by Italian Neorealism. Although never a formally organized movement, the New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of classical cinematic form and their spirit of youthful iconoclasm. Many also engaged in their work with the social and political upheavals of the era, making their radical experiments with editing, visual style, and narrative part of a general break with the conservative paradigm."


Nouvelle Vague: Classic punk and new-wave era songs (c.1978-c.1981) interpreted in a bossa-nova ('new beat' in portuguese) style by a french musical collective, taking the grey, sombre orginals and breathing new, relaxed and sometimes sultry life into them.

Much though I love arty, foreign films... tonight Matthew, I will mostly be enjoying an arty, foreign band instead.

Mmm. Nice.

The setlist included (in no particular order) things like:

Dancing With Myself - Generation X [YouTube]
Human Fly - The Cramps
Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus
A Forest - The Cure
Making Plans For Nigel - XTC [YouTube]
Guns Of Brixton - The Clash [YouTube]
Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode [YouTube]
Friday Night, Saturday Morning - The Specials
Blue Monday - New Order [YouTube]
Grey Day - Madness
Ever Fallen in Love - the Buzzcocks [YouTube]
Too Drunk To Fuck - The Dead Kennedys [YouTube]
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division [YouTube]
Teenage Kicks - The Undertones [YouTube]

Hard to go wrong with source material like that, you would think, and it was quite hard to keep a smile off my face throughout, even though the crowd was filled with rude, pushy couples and loud, smelly teenagers (who were later picked up by their mum and an elder sister who took one sniff, wrinkled her nose and then reached into her handbag for a can of deodorant she had presumably brought along for just this purpose). The band tonight consisted of guitar, upright bass, drummer, keyboardist and two singers. All look pretty Gallic, but the two female singers just ooze that very foreign kind of sophistication that moppets like Adele and Duffy will probably never have and that the likes of Lily Allen and Kate Nash would no doubt kill for. Both are slightly odd in their mannerisms and approach their performance as though they were onstage in an especially arty mime show, throwing shapes at the crowd and generally pouting and playing it cool. At one point, during a fantastic version of "Too Drunk to Fuck", one of the singers clambered out into the crowd, made her way to the bar, climbed up and had a little dance, ordered a pint and then wandered back to the stage with her prize. Classy, and given the subject matter of the song, it was a perfect moment. Sadly, both singers were pretty flat (flat enough to make the bassist wince, and to make C. walk out after about an hour when she could stand it no more). Me? Well, I grew up listening to heavy metal, so.... y'know, I barely noticed.

The rest of the band were pretty tight, with even the clearly wasted keyboard player managing to play all the right notes in mostly the right order. The bassist was using a stand-up, fretless bass, which he occasionally played using a bow, and was clearly a very talented musician. The others were very, very good... even if the (tiny) guitarist looked disturbingly like Gaius Baltar from the new Battlestar Galactica.

A good night, and a very entertaining band (although I'm not sure that C. would agree). I bet they'd go down an absolute storm on a sunny afternoon at a festival.....

Oh, and incidentally, support was by Gabriela Cilmi. I didn't really catch enough to make a judgement, except to say that her bassist looks a dead ringer for Sideshow Bob. Not a great look.

Verdict: 6.5 / 10


  1. Nice review, and interesting to compare with my own (just finished it, phew), which will be up on thisisnottingham tomorrow morning. We've made some strikingly similar points!

  2. Saw 'em at Summer Sundae '06 - they're definitely a good idea, but one that starts to wear a bit thin after a while. Weren't much to watch, either. Still, their version of 'Too Drunk To Fuck' is worth the admission money.

  3. Mike's excellent review of this gig can be found here.

    I think you're right Ben - it's a joke that does start to wear a bit thin over the course of the evening, but when it works, it works really, really well. Their version of "Too Drunk To Fuck" was a triumph, and I really, really enjoyed stuff like "A Forest", where (as Mike says in his review), they dropped some of them dinner party sound and actually started edging towards the originals (the bassline in "A Forest" was a facsimile of the original, I think.. for all the jazzy edges that the band added). By the time they came back on to finish "Love Will Tear Us Apart", it struck me that they were now sounding a lot closer to Joy Division than Mark Ronson.

    An interesting night.... although I could have done without the pushy element of the crowd and the general hubub (much though I was amused by the students pushing through the crowd, realising they had nowhere to go and that they didn't know the songs and disappearing back through the crowd. I most certainly didn't enjoy that awful woman with the Janet Street-Porter voice imploring her smelly, crusty boyfriend..."John, take me to Paris". Again, and again and again.)

  4. Yeah - but 'Janet Street Porter' didn't stand next to you for too long - I got the full effect of the eau-de-crusty boyfriend after they'd pushed in front of me!
    (which, i'll admit, was a mild improvement on being about a centimetre from the face of the girl in 'permanently-snogging-couple'. Anyone would think she wanted a threesome...).

    I loved 'A Forest' - slightly biased with it being my favourite track by the Cure. I'll also buck the trend by declaring my love for 'Just can't get enough' bossa-nova stylee (though agree with Ben that too many song of that ilk start to wear a little thin).

    Mostly a good evening though - a nice change from the white boys with guitars we usually go to see, eh Swiss?

  5. Swiss - in regards to your Twitter status, Pinkerton is a very garagey, rough, recording.