NZ Arts Festival 2008, Pacific Blue Festival Club
March 4-7 | Reviewed by Helen Sims

YOU KNOW you have been at a great gig when the announcement that “This will be our last song” meets with distressed cries of “No!” Another sign is the audience blissfully singing along en masse to the last song. And yet another is wanting write the word “Awesome” 300 times over as your review of the gig. Awesome would sum up my night at Nouvelle Vague, but I’ll try to elaborate.

I must admit I love what Nouvelle Vague does – takes 80s new wave staples and gives them a sexy French re-packaging, most commonly in the bossanova, lounge club style. So I was pretty excited about the gig and pre-disposed to enjoy it! But Nouvelle Vague live exceeded my expectations. Their two female singers ooze sexuality, with one being vampy, casting flashing eyes at the audience and dancing dangerously and the other flirty, cooing at the audience and dancing in a cute twee fashion. The rest of the band (all male) looked quite bemused by the antics of the two singers. The band is incredibly tight, moving from number to number and allowing each member to shine in turn. In footage of their previous concerts they have a diverse range of instruments on stage. Perhaps the constraints of travelling caused them to trim it down a little – I didn’t see the expected accordion, but was fascinated with what I think was an electric double bass and they did play a variety of percussion instruments.

They hit many of their popular numbers in a manner true to the recorded versions on their two CDs, the self-titled Nouvelle Vague and Bande Apart, including ‘Dancing With Myself’, ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have Fallen in Love With)’ and ‘Blue Monday’. ‘Human Fly’, ‘The Guns of Brixton’ and ‘Bela Lugusi’s Dead’ were even improvements on their album counterparts – a person next to me felt they almost outdid Bauhaus! They finished aptly with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, then came back and performed a three song encore – and still the audience wanted more! But they were told they had to make for the next act in the Festival Tent. I was pleased they included my favourite track – a cover of the Lords of the New Church’s ‘Dance with me’.

My only minor grumble was this was a gig that should not have been seated – people really wanted to dance and didn’t really have the room without blocking the view of others. Nouvelle Vague’s music is made for dancing and the singers were urging us to do so. But not even this could spoil my enjoyment of this gig – dancing would simply have added to it. It was fun and sexy and I hope to see Nouvelle Vague again in a longer gig someday.