Of all my trips to Paris, I never managed to catch a live gig. So I was determined to venture out of the cozy apartment and into the drizzle last night to see The Big Pink at the Nouveau Casino, a nightclub in the 8th.
My quick review online reaped one after another glowing, these are the Next-Big-Thing blurbs, not in the least pointing out last year's NME Philip Hall Radar Award for best new act. One London critic even called their debut album, A Brief History, "a modern masterpiece." Well, alright then.
Besides, my name was on the list, so I figured it would be rude not to show up. L.A. pal Leopold Ross did me the courtesy. We'd run into him the night before at Hotel Amour with his gal and fellow collaborator in IO Echo, Joanna Gikis–our former shopgirl in the Silverlake A+R store, before she cut out to pursue the music career. Working, too, it appears since she would be missing the TBP gig, having to head back to London the following morning to record.
Headliners, The Big Pink went on at 9:30, crazy early by my experience in L.A., London, NYC, Madrid, hell, anywhere but here. But that wouldn't be the only quirk of a Paris rock nightclub I'd soon enough learn.
The band went right into what was an intense 40-minute set of shoe-gazing white noise pop, mostly songs of romance–gone good, gone awry, long gone and never far away. Usually don't have much patience for this nouvea kind of stuff. But these guys are good. Frontman Robbie Furze's look notwithstanding, the sound evoked late nights long ago in similarly sized clubs seeing Echo and The Bunnymen, Happy Mondays, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine…music their mums were probably listening to when they were scarcely out of the womb.
Robbie, on guitar and lead vocals, and Milo Cordell, on synth, comprise The Big Pink, and a rotating cast of touring musicians round out the set. Leopold is on bass, and on the kit behind them is the dynamic, leather HotPants-clad Akiko Matsuura. (Someone give this chick a fashion editorial!)
Individually, they have impressive CVs (and lineage: Milo's pop is producer Denny Cordell, a.k.a. the man behind Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale.") Beside's IO Echo, Leo's includes work with Korn, Rancid and Grace Jones, with whom he cowrote her most recent album, "Devil in My Life." It was at her Hollywood Bowl show last summer where we last caught Leo performing. With his brother Atticus, he co-composed the score for the The Book of Eli, and served as guitarist and engineer on the Twilight soundtrack. He and Robbie and Milo have been friends since age five or so, he says, so accepting their invitation to tour was a no brainer.
Collectively, Robbie, Milo, Keek and Leo make for an entertaining foursome on stage, with plenty of hot pink spotlights to boot. And the usually stoic Paris crowd responded in a way that even the band's lovely tour manager was surprised to see.
Post-show we did the requisite backstage toast with nasty Kronenbergs. The club was already filling with the smell of disinfectant cleaner as the female bartenders madly scrubbed down the place–even as a few patrons begged for another drink. It wasn't even 11! Never experienced such a thing.
We crossed the way to a bar, where Robbie humbly and enthusiastically talked music composition like a true fan. He was set to DJ at 1 at an afterhours, before the entire lot of them–including a batch of British groupies–got back on the bus at 4 for a show tonight in Antwerp (and I, as you now know–see below if not, had l'incident). They were in Munich only the night before. Ah, the glamorously hamster life of a rock star!
Will catch up with them again at Coachella in April.
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