Charlotte Gainsbourg & Connan Mockasin - Somerset House, London 19/07/12
Header photo by Botaniquebxl
Charlotte Gainsbourg isn't a very good singer, but it is precisely this that makes her one of the best. If a voice full of attitude, personality and story attracts you, then she's your no.1. Either way she doesn't need your approval. She's got nothing to prove. And that only serves to add to the Charlotte appeal.
She's on the huge stage at Somerset House because she loves to sing. She's not promoting a new album with this show. She's having a great evening out. Once that is clear, you're in for the time of your life.
For sometime now Charlotte has been joined by the cult hero Connan Mockasin and his band when performing live. One hopes they'll be writing and recording music together. After such a impressive show of two musicians in succinct harmony it would be criminal for them not to.
Before Charlotte and Connan take the stage support comes from South London's brightest of burning embers - Drop Out Venus, a sibling three piece from Deptford. On their opening track singer Iva howls of her habits "I Kill Foxes" as a very dark early PJ Harvey sound is evoked. In fact, the trio could easily be the love children of PJ and Nick Cave, if they'd actually had kids before calling their affair a day. The band have no bass guitar, which makes for eerie haunting tracks that match her voice and their lyrics. Drummer Ursula is a powerhouse of force and guitarist Chris tortures his guitar like a child with ants and a magnifying glass. It's overly dramatic and maybe not everyone's cup of tea but their angsty emotive force is moving and strong. We'll be hearing a lot more from them yet I'm sure.
Charlotte and Connan and his band of mockasins take the stage amidst thousands of howls from the audience, all dressed in mis-matched bright white clothes looking rather like a 70s cult or an alien mini race. Take us over! They open with Terrible Angels – which is incredibly fitting, and move on in to the brilliant Greenwich Mean Time from her Beck-co-written album IRM. While the songs music and lyrics scream attitude Charlotte is incredibly quiet and shy in every aspect of her presentation; both singing and spoken, and in body language. She nods, practically bowing to the audience to thank them for 'being here' – her sparse volume only serves to make the audiences appreciation louder by comparison.
Connan and his band provide excellent support throughout, Charlotte clearly recognizes and respects the talent of her collaborators as she permits (or maybe begs, who knows?) Connan and the band to play their own tracks – It's 'Chode My Dear' and all 10 blissful minutes of 'Forever Dolphin Love' which are met with just as much rapture as Charlotte's own songs.
'Heaven Can Wait' and 'Me and Jane Doe' from IRM are played with a jazzier twist and extended drum solos, 'Jamais' and 'Songs That We Sing' from 5.55 retain their wide eyed innocence of the album and Charlie Fink penned 'Got to Let Go' from live album Stage Whisper is as heart breaking as ever. Connan asks "Charlie are you here? Well he could be!" as Charlotte smiles over with raised eyebrows. Both sit on stage floor to play it, looking like to children hanging out under the table at an adult party.
The highlight comes with Connan's words "Charlotte is it time for a cover?" as the band launch in to 'Ashes to Ashes'. It beggars belief, as it occurs to me that they are actually dressed like spiders from mars too. Wind in their hair. Bowie in their hearts. An amazing performance. The audience go absolutely metal and both Charlotte and Connan smile, not sure how to take it. She smiles and say thanks, which only encourages more screaming. She is nervous but sweet and humble through out the show, thanking a bunch of folks in French before departing the stage. A true star doesn't even need to try.
Label: Because Music: Release date: 10/05/10 Link: Myspace Renaissance woman Charlotte Gainsbourg has been busy. Between being a cult film heroine, anglo-french style icon and suffering a cerebral haemorrhage in 2007, she has somehow managed to produce a third album, IRM, with the help of quirky musical whizzkid and Scientology enthusiast Beck. Released in the UK in Jan, the album didnât make the headway in the UK that it perhaps deserved, despite great critical acclaim, but then Gain... [read more]
Label: Because Music Release date: 25/01/10 Website: http://www.charlottegainsbourg.com/ Sheâs had a life hasnât she? Old Charlotte Gainsbourg. Finding herself aged twelve thrust into the limelight on the painfully awkward 1984 duet with her father Serge âLemon Incestâ. Gainsbourgâs belated return to the music biz in the mid noughties occurred in the midst of her skyrocketing critically acclaimed acting career. Now onto album three Gainsbourg returns after bouncing back from a ... [read more]
Label: Because Music Release date: 25/01/10 Website: http://www.charlottegainsbourg.com/ Multi-talented French one Charlotte Gainsbourg returned to our big-fat screens last year in Lars von Trierâs well-received Antichrist, and now here she is returning with other her favourite past-time, in the form of new single Heaven Can Wait. 2006âs previous album 5:55 was a thing of beauty, her light, spoken-word singing voiced matched by compelling soft pianos and strings; music to be played i... [read more]
How the hell do you describe Connan Mockasin? Seriously? Sexy subterranean jazz? Sultry alternative pop? Low-octane, electronically slurred R&B? The musical expression of some deep and disturbing sensuality? Or in the peculiar case of this particular album, a simple sonic expression of caramel minus the real time calories? [read more]