A warm welcome by the ‘bright onions’! Nouvelle Vague hits town.
NOUVELLE VAGUE +BLACK LILYS – CHALK, BRIGHTON 16.3.22
A warm welcome by the ‘bright onions’!
So, what a night!
I mean, it’s amazing to be anywhere really at the moment, but to attend a gig, cancelled and planned after a two year hiatus, for a band who are now celebrating their 15th anniversary of sexy, demi monde, bossa nova reincarnations of much loved punk and new wave classics, well, this was always going to go down a storm. And so it did.
Nouvelle Vague for it is they, played an absolutely storming gig at Chalk in Brighton on 16th March 2022. Fronted by two amazing singers and performers, Mélanie Pain and Elodie Frégé, and with three backing instrumentalists, Mélanie introduced the band to its Brightonian audience as her “little bright onions”. I think the crowd were pleased with such endearments.
Supported throughout their UK tour by the French band Black Lilys, an emerging French Indie outfit featuring a brother-sister duo creating ‘dark pop’ music, inspired by pain and grief. Grumbling that they don’t get played in France because they sing in English, it is a sad loss to their home country, as this funky two piece, mostly focussing on keyboard and guitar, offer a new take on atmospheric electro pop.
The Black Lilys female vocalist and 1970s synthesiser brought a film sound track quality to the music. A stand out moment was a sublime cover of (with added rain effects) Erik Satie Three Gymnopedies: for piano’. Check them out!
Find out more at www.blacklilys-music.com
A short break and then, rapturous applause for the much missed Nouvelle Vague. Where have they been for the last 15 years? Their set started with a cover of ‘Fade To Grey’, a cover of a classic track by Visage, started in the shadows with the two front women coming out in dazzling shiny sequins and a melodica. The audience energy levels went through the roof, even if most of us were the wrong side of 40.
This was followed by a Bossa nova version of ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order and then immediately a swing version of ‘Dancing With Myself’ (Generation X cover) which got everyone pogoing.
The perennial favourite ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’ from the Buzzcocks was pure sass. Oui!
Then came the ‘Making Plans For Nigel’ (XTC) which is a personal fave of mine, I confess I am a biased reviewer here and I make no apologies for it. What’s not to like about Nigel when “He has his future in a British steel”. And delivered by such a swoonsome singing duo.
‘Too Drunk to F*ck’ was a glorious bawdy stumbling racket with the singers in character to tumble about the stage. Perfect delivery and segueing in to ‘Teenage Kicks’, ah sweet sixteen singalong with the crowd.
‘Human Fly’ – The Cramps cover was rendered as a novelty burlesque stripper number. A vaudeville incarnation delivered in an amazing voice. Then came ‘All My Colours (Zimbo)’, a version of an Echo and the Bunnymen song where “all my colours turn to clouds”.
‘Road To Nowhere’ that Talking Heads fave emerged in an intimate piano bar style song, followed by a fleeting snatch of ‘Enola Gay’, this time as ethereal ballad complete with vintage airplane noise.
The French song ‘La Pluie [Après La Pluie Le Beau Temps]’ was delivered by Elodie Frégé in a slow samba rhythm as a homage to “to our friend Olivier who went to paradise a few months ago”.
This moving moment was a remembrance of founding member of the band a (and a number of others) Olivier Libaux who created Nouvelle Vague with Marc Collin in 2004, and who passed away recently at the far too young age of age 57. An irredeemably French moment.
I Just Can’t Get Enough’ was a complete turnround for the sombre mood of moments before. This ‘80s hit morphed into a drum spectacular, with the entire ensemble picking up an instrument to create a mobile samba band. The group played percussion en masse complete with surdo and tam.
‘Heaven’ came in the form of this Psychedelic Furs cover and then ‘Guns Of Brixton’ with Mélanie Pain as a background whistling wonder. A broken shoe wasn’t enough to stop her and she stylishly segued into ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. This proved an opportunity for an audience singalong, and a very moving one at that. Never mind the germs, I only saw one person wearing a mask. It was anthemic… we all needed it!
Three songs followed for their encore, ‘Don’t Go’ from Yazoo and then a café chanson rendition of ‘In A Manner Of Speaking’, sung as a duo… guitar and song, complemented with clave in the background.
For dessert was ‘I Melt With You’ from Modern English and melt we did. The audience was raptured and so very happy to be experiencing such an exquisite night after such a long absence.
Faites comme chez vous Nouvelle Vague.
Nouvelle Vague setlist:
‘Fade To Grey’ (Visage cover)
‘Blue Monday’ (New Order cover)
‘Dancing With Myself’ (Generation X cover)
‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’ (Buzzcocks cover)
‘Making Plans For Nigel’ (XTC cover)
‘Too Drunk To F*ck’ (Dead Kennedys cover)
‘Teenage Kicks’ (The Undertones cover)
‘Human Fly’ (The Cramps cover)
‘All My Colours (Zimbo)’ (Echo & the Bunnymen cover)
‘Road To Nowhere’ (Talking Heads cover)
‘Enola Gay’ (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark cover)
‘La Pluie Et Le Beau Temps’ (Jacques Hélian cover)
‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ (Depeche Mode cover)
‘Heaven’ (The Psychedelic Furs cover)
‘The Guns of Brixton’ (The Clash cover)
‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (Joy Division cover)
‘Don’t Go’ (Yazoo cover)
‘In A Manner of Speaking’ (Tuxedomoon cover)
‘I Melt With You’ (Modern English cover)
Find out more at nouvellevaguemusic.com
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