Live Music + Gig Reviews

Nouvelle Vague @ Bloomsbury Ballroom, London

24 November 2006

Following on from their barnstorming success at the Jazz Cafs Picnic in the Park in August, Nouvelle Vague again managed to make me want to be a Galloise smoking dilettante of the Left Bank so I could loll at the source of their unusual magic. The crowd around me at the Bloomsbury Ballroom must have also felt same judging by the feel good frenzy engulfing this chic venue, that was so intense you could almost touch it.

A somewhat cultish Parisian band, Nouvelle Vague is the brainchild of producers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux, who together with raft of young chanteuses – Melanie Pain, Camille and Phoebe Killdeer – have taken punk and new wave music and created some sophisticated, soulful, Bossa-driven reworkings of such classic pop songs as Echo And The Bunnymen’s The Killing Moon, Buzzcocks’ Ever Fallen In Love?, New Order’s Blue Monday.

If you were to follow your preconceptions you may cast Nouvelle Vague aside as a one trick novelty act more suited to a cabaret billing, but their unique sound and performance style creates something that is aloof but indelible. Submit yourself to this quirky form of musical deja-vu and youll never look back. And while you smile with pangs of nostalgia for the originals and love for their new reincarnation, you also get to marvel at the kooky French ingnues, who bring playfulness to these classics that endears them to the room.

Billy Idol’s snarlin lip curler Dancin’ With Myself was given an unlikely swing to it and The Cramps’ Human Fly felt like something straight out of an acid trip. The encore gave new meaning to The Specials’ Friday Night, Saturday Morning.

No one does cool quite like the French and no band can quite compete with Nouvelle Vague in the hyper-hip stakes. These Gallic, post-punkers on a Bossa Nova tip are unlike any other and their quirky, melodramatic cover versions had everybody dancing and lip synching right till the end. So if you ever find yourself searching for an antidote to the manufactured pap that passes for commercial music these days, let these Left Bank musicians feed your soul.

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More on Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague @ Bloomsbury Ballroom, London
Nouvelle Vague – Bande A Part
Nouvelle Vague @ Pigalle Club, London