May 16, 2007

Nouvelle Vague in HK

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My friend Ed introduced me to Nouvelle Vague, a French band that exclusively does covers of 80s new wave hits - bossa nova style. When I found that they were coming to HK as part of the Le French May festivities, I decided to get tickets and check them out. We were seated 4 rows from the stage, pretty much smack in the middle, so were in perfect position.

The Frenchy expats were out in force to support their countrymen, and just as well they should because these guys were really good - much better than I had anticipated. The list of songs they performed as as follows, not necessarily in order but the opening and ending songs are correct:
  • Echo and the Bunnymen: Killing Moon
  • Buzzcocks: Ever Fallen In Love
  • Lords of the New Church: Dance with Me
  • Billy Idol: Dancing with Myself
  • Blondie: Heart of Glass
  • New Order: Blue Monday
  • Bauhaus: Bela Lugosi's Dead
  • Visage: Fade to Grey
  • Depeche Mode: Just Can't Get Enough
  • The Clash: Guns of Brixton
  • Dead Kennedys: Too Drunk to Fuck
  • XTC: Making Plans for Nigel
  • The Cure: A Forest
  • The Undertones: Teenage Kicks
  • The Specials: Friday Night, Saturday Morning
  • Depeche Mode: Just Can't Get Enough (alternate version as part of encore)
  • Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart (encore)
It was very interesting to see the very different styles of the two singers. Melanie Pain's voice was a bit more child-like, a little raspy and squeaky, almost Lolita-like. Her stage persona was also veering towards the cutesy, girlish side. Phoebe Killdeer, however, had a deeper, more forceful voice, and she had a bit more jazziness. Her stage persona was more wild, at times gothic although nothing in her make-up and dress indicated this. Voice-wise, I preferred Melanie since hers was the voice that drew me to this band. But Phoebe definitely was the better stage performer, as she rolled around the floor during the long rendition of Too Drunk to Fuck and slowly descended to the floor during Bela Lugosi's Dead.

What was interesting was that the band drank alcohol on stage. I first noticed the tumbler with suspicious brown liquid, which Melanie sipped from on stage instead of water. Then sometime during the act, Phoebe addressed the crowd and asked for Champagne. The organizers quickly brought out a bottle along with a few flutes, which Phoebe and Melanie shared with the band as well as some members of the audience. When the first bottle was finished, a second bottle was produced and that disappeared in a hurry also. While this may not be a big deal at rock concerts elsewhere, it's certainly the first time that I've seen it in HK.

Anyway. I think Nouvelle Vague is a very cool band and they are extremely good performers. I would highly recommend that you catch them live if you can.

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