Her Majesty’s Theatre, Thu Jan 15
Adelaide didn’t get the full So Frenchy So Chic Festival In The Park with wine and cheese like Sydney and Melbourne, but we did get a fine sample with this double bill.
The curtain opens with Emilie Simon resplendent in glittering gold dress – definitely the chic from the show title – elegantly made up and with a smile to die for. But anyone who had come to hear a sweet chanteuse may have been shocked by the volume of the opening bars of the first song courtesy of three backing musicians in black (drums, keyboards and guitar/bass). Expectations that she will hold nothing more than a glass of champagne fall away when she picks up an electric guitar early in the set.
Emilie Simon likes to keep the surprises coming. She straps an incongruously steampunk-looking device onto her arm, with which she is able to manipulate various effects on her voice. She does an Iggy Pop cover. She swaps the guitar for keyboards and a rhythm machine. She kicks off the high heels and dances barefoot at the front of the stage.
Despite the friendly smile she does not speak to the audience until well into the set and then only to say thanks or to give the title of the next song. Then she gets a laugh with the opening line (in English) from Flowers “I want to buy you flowers but you’re a boy” and warms to the task. For comic effect she tries to introduce the band during a brief moment they are all offstage.
Sonically there are so many interesting things happening but tonight there is also a sense that she is trying too hard to avoid being pigeon-holed, to the detriment of a completely consistent performance.
After an extended break The Dø launch into songs from their latest CD Shake, Shook, Shaken. Singer Olivia Merilahti is impressive both vocally and in the way her body movements are choreographed to the music. Meanwhile Dan Levy is driving everything from behind an electronic percussion bank. They are helped out by two multi-instrumentalists who are clearly having a lot of fun.
Their songs are all in English and until Dan comes out to speak we could be forgiven for thinking they are not French at all! But their songs are quirky and strong, and they work hard to engage the audience.
The only disappointment for both band and audience is that the music is so rhythmically based that it is ideal for dancing to, in fact the publicity was predicting we’d all be dancing in the aisles, but Her Majesty’s is hardly conducive to that kind of thing. Oh to have been in the park! But The Dø were obviously making a lot of new friends this time around and will be well worth keeping an eye on.
by Adrian Miller