Our French neighbours are often so close to getting it right but then fail at the final hurdle, dousing a perfectly good song with some awkward grammar or finishing off a sharp outfit with some ill-advised logosor a pair of white chinos.
However, when they do get something right they do so inspectacular style and possibly their best idea for some time, beating even duck paté and teaching Zinedine Zidane how to perform a Glasgow kiss, was toput a live music venue on the first floor of their beloved Eiffel Tower.
As the first in a series of three gigs organised around Europe by Coca-Cola to showcase emerging talent alongside established artists inspectacular venues, a certain Siouxie Sioux (minus the Banshees) waspersuaded to don her catsuit, belt out some classy new material and generally enjoy a view of Paris that must have been even more spectacularfrom on-stage than it was to us proletarians in the audience.
Thesupport bands were chosen on merit by Siouxie. Headland, a five piece band from London who arevery much riding the pseudo dance/indie wave of frenetic beats and angsty vocals, were the chief support act and they had enough spark to light upseveral hundred of the tacky mini Eiffel Tower models being hocked to thetourists queuing outside. Their combination of a mustachioed, be-suited front man and pretty keyboard player was pleasing to the eye and ear butit’s a shame that not many people took the trouble to turn up earlier asHeadland, judging from their classy recital and recent press interest, could well be rivalling the Klaxons and Shitdisco next year for theindie disco kids crown.
And so, after Headland had packed their kit away and a black-clad team had installed enough instrumentation to make the north side of thetower groan louder than a Frenchman losing at boule and spilling his port,it was time. First her black-clad band came on and then, with a tension-building pause, Miss Sioux entered stage right.
Quite how she got her seamstress to sew her into her silver catsuit, a garment thatsat between glam rock-style grandiose and something you might expect to bewearing if you were an extra in Flash Gordon, was anyone’s guess. She actually looked in impressively good nick forher age and there was not a bulge out of place or a love handle to be seen.
The set was almost entirely, and somewhat selfishly, made up of newmaterial from this year’s MantaRay solo album (her first) that mostlybordered on a sort of soft rock Marilyn Manson or a dodgy Depeche Mode remix. That’s not to say either ends of the musical spectrum arebad, it’s just not what you’d expect from the dark, brooding personalitypromoted by the artist for the past three decades.
But everyone has to move forward and, if this is Siouxie Sioux’s new solo direction, then itcould win her a lot more fans than the previous dark gothic punk numbersshe’s associated with. Into A Swan is one such example of a new track thattypifies her performance; it thuds along with bursts of scuzzy electronicaand grinding guitar punctuated by her trademark powerful vocal style butwith the added visual treat of a few high kicks.
Her mastery of the French language was also impressive but not so helpful when she introduced eachsong in the lingo. My greatest achievement in France that day was tocorrectly order a beer in French rather than tell the barmaid I wanted four of something in German.
So this was one thing the French almost got right again; the venue wassuperb, the views astonishing, the bands all impressive. But, if we’re honest, Siouxie’s bacofoil outfit belonged around the Christmas turkey on the top shelf of a pre-heated fan oven, rather thanon the slender thighs of a 50-year-old rock legend on a chilly Parisianevening.