Adelaide may not have had So Frenchy So Chic the festival in 2020, but Nouvelle Vague made sure we didn’t feel like we had missed out and let us join in their 15th birthday celebrations.
The familiar instrumental tones of Fade to Grey open the show with just the three musicians on stage. Lights move to the back of the theatre and we find Nouvelle Vague singers Mélanie Pain and Phoebe Killdeer who slowly make their way down the stairs (Mélanie barefoot) – what an entrance! Phoebe Killdeer was dressed in a simple but très chic black satin knee length dress and little black boots, Mélanie Pain in a shimmery silver belted number, both in sheer black stockings.
On stage, Mélanie Pain (So Frenchy So Chic alumni in her own right) and Phoebe Killdeer amused, entertained and commanded the audience.
The set list comprised a set of covers from the late 1970s and the 1980s in signature Nouvelle Vague style. English language songs, with an undeniable French twist.
Phoebe Killdeer’s theatrical dance style encompasses everything from drunken stumble for The Ramones’ “I wanna be sedated” and “Too drunk to fuck” to zombie-like for Nouvelle Vague’s version of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s dead”.
Mélanie Pain and Phoebe Killdeer each had their chance to showcase their individual vocal skills in solo performances. Mélanie Pain’s performance of “In a manner of speaking” the only non-cover in Nouvelle Vague’s set was touching. Clearly both are very skilful performers and their chemistry was infectious.
Accompanying the ladies were the three male band members: Olivier Libaux on guitar, Mathieu Coupat on keyboards and Marc Collin on synthesizer. Mélanie and Phoebe also provided additional accompaniment by way of kazoo, harmonica, maracas and tambourines.
The audience were encouraged to get up on their feet to join in the singing and dancing in “Blister in the Sun” and “Love will tear us apart again”. The audience was enthusiastically helping with “Blister in the Sun” but gave a frustratingly meek response to Pain’s beckoning to help out, very quietly singing along to “Love will tear us apart again”.
A full Dunstan Playhouse audibly and visibly enjoyed Nouvelle Vague’s performance. We look forward to the next 15 years of Nouvelle Vague and hope they grace our shores again soon.
Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of the Adelaide Festival Centre.
Nouvelle Vague Set list:
“Fade to Grey” Visage
“How does it feel” New Order
“I wanna be sedated” The Ramones
“Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” The Buzzcocks
“Blank Generation” Richard Hell and The Voidoids
“Too drunk to fuck” The Dead Kennedys
“Sweet and Tender Hooligan” The Smiths
“Human Fly” The Cramps
“Dance with me” The Lords of the new church
“Blister in the Sun” Violent Femmes
“Enola Gay” Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
“We’re on the road to nowhere” Talking Heads
“Friday night, Saturday morning” The Specials
“Guns of Brixton” The Clash
“Bela Lugosi’s dead” Bauhaus
“Love with tear us apart again” Joy Division
“The Killing Moon” Echo and the Bunnymen
“I just can’t get enough” Depeche Mode
“In a manner of speaking” Nouvelle Vague