Live Review–Nouvelle Vague, La Maison Française, 6-18-09

Every one’s favorite French bossa nova cover band, Nouvelle Vague, (I know it’s hard to pick just one, but work with me here) blew through D.C. in a cloud of sexy last week. Headlining at the French Embassy, the band came on late, but still managed to give the crow what it wanted–namely, a bit of French chic on a balmy, summer eve. Following a line of slappily thrown together jokes about the fair Parisians (decide for yourself whether or not “cheese monkey” is funny; obviously, the answer is yes, it is), I settled towards the back of the room to enjoy the latest incarnation of the band. While the band may well have been founded by Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux, the evening definitely belonged to the two exquisite and lovely chanteuses, Melanie Pain and Nadeah Miranda. (The line-up of singers tends to rotate, similar to Zero 7.)

As the band began to play, a very stunning Miranda came out dressed in a black cloak, while an almost too cute Pain came out in a tasseled flapper dress. The two proceeded to work the crowd, posing like runway models, looking alternatively bored and ennui-filled as the mood dictated. I believe I honestly can say it was the first time I’d seen voguing in a long, long time. Between song commentary was delivered in both French and English, as the band never could seem to get a handle on whether the house was predominately local or foreign. Of course, to my ears, this made the show all the more appealing. Who doesn’t love attractive French women giggling and encouraging the crowd to yell “Fuck” (“It is good to yell ‘Fuck’ in an Embassy.)? Nobody. Not even your grandfather.

The band ran through its full repertoire, from Nouvelle Vague (“This is Not a Love Song”) and Band A’Part (“Ever Fallen in Love”) to the latest, 3 (“Blister in the Sun,” “God Save the Queen,” “The American”). The highlight of the night, however, was the mid-set “Too Drunk to Fuck,” played far closer to the Dead Kennedy’s original than the band’s own interpretation, complete with Miranda spitting a mouthful of water onto the adoring crowd. The only real complaint to be had was in the song progression choice. Seldom have I seen a show that would amp the crowd up, then go slow for a few songs, then up, then down, etc. Whoever did the set list for the night probably could have thought it through a bit better is all I’m saying.

Of course, that was a moot point for the audience, as Nouvelle Vague clearly had us at, “Bonjour.”
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