Charlotte Gainsbourg - Live At Somerset House, London

With support from Drop Out Venus
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Live At Somerset House, London
“I kill foxes, I take their eyes!” yowls Iva Moskovich of Drop Out Venus. With their uncompromising vitriol and intensity, the south London three-piece are something of a contrast to the grandeur of Somerset House, not to mention the refined audience of elegant, artily smoking French people. With first song - that of the deranged fox hunter - they recall Savages with a hint of Warpaint, but only if they’d had a really crappy day and were feeling mildly homicidal. Later they are pure, neurotic punk, Moskovich snarling and glowering angrily at the audience, before falling into an early Yeah Yeah Yeahs groove, a frenetic guitar riff off-setting the lyrics “Death is screamin, screamin, screamin’/Everything about you is….brilliant!” Refreshingly unrefined, DOV are raging, occasionally tender, and doing it for Deptford. In yer face.

Altering the atmosphere of the evening somewhat is the hypnotic Charlotte Gainsbourg, clad in white and the very epitome of understated cool and sophistication. She takes the stage with psychedelic pop-prog’s rising star, Connan Mockasin, who seems to have misunderstood the brief and turned up dressed for the circus. For a self-acknowledged “stage whisperer”, it’s odd that Gainsbourg’s live performances take a more high-octane, synth and beat heavy direction – opener, ‘Terrible Angels’, is a strong, Goldfrappy disco tune, but overpowers her light, breathy vocal at times.

Despite this, Gainsbourg has undisputable stage presence, a performance magic that’s hard to pin down. She moves very little and sits for much of the set, but is riveting nonetheless. More stripped down numbers such as the ‘All the Rain’ provide a much better platform for her bare, oddly compelling voice, and the pairing with Mockasin works in an odd, quirky sort of way. As they duet on ‘Jane Doe’, the combined effect of their distinct voices is unsettling and slightly unearthly. There’s another nice moment when they sing ‘Got to Let Go’ (written by Noah and the Whale’s Charlie Fink) crouched down together like devious children.

A cover of Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ should work better than it does given Gainsbourg’s off-kilter musical sensibilities and presence but again, her voice is slightly lost and thin against the he impressive band arrangement. She does much better on the kind of low-fi tracks which made ‘5.55’ and ‘IRM’ so wonderful, such as ‘Jamais’, with its late night jazz bar feel. Which is where, one feels, Gainsbourg the live performer would really be at home.

Words by Theresa Heath
Photo by Helen F. Kennedy


Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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