Live Music + Gig Reviews

Paris Motel @ Bush Hall, London

13 April 2006

Paris Hilton? Forget it. Paris Travelodge? Not a chance. Capital of France? Why bother. Ladies and gentlemen, the only Paris of any interest is Paris Motel.

Singer-songwriter Amy May, among the collection of classical musicians that formed this evening’s line up of Paris Motel, treated Bush Hall to a performance that hit all the right notes on every possible level. On stage in full evening wear, and looking every bit as flawless as they sound, you could almost feel that this opulent venue had been designed and built in the mere anticipation that, one day, something like this band would turn up to fill it.

This was going to be a good performance from the moment the spontaneous applause erupted following a last minute bit of violin tuning. The first offering of the night was I Lost My Heart/Philippe, Philippe, a track which draws obvious comparisons with Saint Etienne but clearly has other influences too numerous to mention. It sounds familiar, but in that soothing way that all truly timeless songs do. We were also treated to Mr Splitfoot, a song which has a definite air of Nick Cave about it that demonstrated the versatility of the musicians and the lyricist beautifully. Also aired was the title track from the debut EP, 071, a track of such haunting melodic and lyrical beauty that it is easily on a par with the anything Morcheeba have produced.

Also on the playlist was a new offering from Amy’s pen entitled After Wonder, a fusion of the various genres influencing Paris Motel which provided a tantalizing glimpse of the potential content of the debut album, currently under construction. As you can infer from the descriptions of the other tracks of the evening this sort of union is not an easy thing to do, and most bands would have undoubtedly produced something so hideous you’d spend the track wanting to do something monumentally unpleasant to them with a rusty cheese-grater. However, Paris Motel are not most bands, and Amy May is most definitely not most songwriters.

After the apparent finale of Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow with its mournful tone and heart-wrenching lyrics we were farewelled by an unexpected cover of Blur‘s To The End which did full justice to the original despite being indisputably Paris Motel. Cover versions are a difficult thing to do well, and are almost never on a par with the original and yet again Amy et al have come up trumps. Having heard Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue‘s collaboration Where The Wild Roses Grow given the Paris Motel treatment on a previous occasion this is definitely another direction from which we can expect to see more gems. Any chance of Shivaree‘s Goodnight Moon, Amy?

But the music is not the only thing that makes a Paris Motel performance so worth attending. Amy’s personality and presence fill a venue as much as the music. From her comments to the audience and the interaction with the rest of the band, the distinct impression is that she’s every bit as enchanting as her music. While she plays, it seems as though every song is for you alone. It’s as if during the course of the evening you’ve made a new friend, and one who would let you use their shower if your boiler was broken.

According to Amy the debut album is nearing completion, so we can all rest easy in the knowledge that we can expect more unmissable evenings in the company of Paris Motel.

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More on Paris Motel
Paris Motel @ Bush Hall, London
Paris Motel @ Metro, London