nouvelle vague at the somerville theatre

Nou­velle Vague
Somerville The­atre
24 Jan­u­ary 2010

The premise: a French band rein­ter­prets New Wave and punk rock songs as laid-back bossa nova tunes. Imag­ine lush, [some­times] qui­et remakes of clas­sic Talk­ing Heads, Vio­lent Femmes, Dead Kennedys, and Joy Divi­sion mate­r­i­al. Yes, it’s weird, but it works. It works even bet­ter live.

As the con­cept is not entire­ly unique, Nou­velle Vague owes a large part of its suc­cess to sol­id musi­cian­ship. The breathy, seduc­tive vocals, stun­ning out­fits, and some­times over-the-top stage pres­ence of vocal­ists Hele­na Noguer­ra and Kari­na Zeviani were the care­ful­ly-craft­ed cen­ter­pieces of the per­for­mance. The gui­tar, key­boards, and bass were right on, but in some ways drum­mer Spencer Cohen stealth­ily stole the show, charg­ing pre­cise­ly through very com­plex rhythms with a relaxed bear­ing and goofy grin that effused under­stat­ed sim­plic­i­ty.

Open­ing act Clare and The Rea­sons was a delight­ful dis­cov­ery. Her voice is great. Her hus­band plays gui­tar, vio­lin, pen­ny­whis­tle, kazoo, and the saw. Their song about Plu­to was fun­ny. They closed their part of the show on a high note by sum­mon­ing a guest tuba play­er to sup­ply the boun­cy bass line for their hilar­i­ous cov­er (with vio­lin and clar­inet) of Gen­e­sis’ “That’s All.”

Ver­dict: awe­some!

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January 29, 2010 January 29, 2010 reviews by Scott [permanent link]