Nouvelle Vague

ABC, Glasgow, Fri 25 May


There’s something about covers bands that usually screams ‘novelty record’. However, Nouvelle Vague managed to transcend the Mike Flowers Pops comparisons with their eponymous debut album, and multi-instrumentalists Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux pulled it off again with 2006’s Bande A Part. Cover versions their best numbers might be, but they’re wide-eyed, exciting cover versions that make you start listening to the words in completely different ways. Their secret ingredient is a coterie of breathy-voiced French girl vocalists (Melanie Pain, Phoebe Kildeer and Marina Celeste have all contributed to the most recent album, though the final line-up for the Glasgow gig is currently unknown), all a bit crazy and all with their tongues firmly planted in their rouged, sculpted cheeks.

On record, they take overplayed New Wave standards, inject wit and glamour, and often manage to imbue more joy and depth than the original. Their reinvention of the Dead Kennedys’ dreary old misogynist rant ‘Too Drunk to Fuck’ as a gleeful, girl-leery hymn in praise of 5am nihilism is a revelation. Live, the tunes are transformed again, the audience gatecrashing a liquored-up jazz club, maybe, or an after-hours party in a Brazillian bossa nova bar. The double bass comes out to play, the singers bat false eyelashes and shimmy drunkenly in fringed cocktail dresses.

Catch them now - they’re already playing the largest stage in the ABC, and with ‘Too Drunk to Fuck’ about to get the Tarantino treatment on the Grindhouse soundtrack, they could potentially get too big for the intimacy that makes it all work.

(Kirstin Innes)

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