Friday, May 16, 2008

You Know When You've Been Tangoed (Vous Savez Quand Vous Avez été Tangoed)

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Level of conviction in own genius: Hhm, 6 and a bit
Reading: Just finished ‘Sing When You’re Winning: Fans, Terrace Songs and the Search for the Soul of Soccer’; now on ‘The Beauty Myth’ by Naomi Wolf
Hair Day: Even though my man Barry has defected to Blackpool, Claire at Russo’s has done a fine choppy chop

Top gig on Wednesday: Camille at Koko. Camille is a quirky, perky French singer who I can add to my list of female vocal gurus which includes Bjork and Meredith Monk; classically-trained but exploring the extreme ranges of her voice in a leftfield pop stylee. Her breakthrough album ‘Le Fil’ (‘The Thread’) had just that: a vocal drone that threaded through the whole album, no matter what sprightly pop, melancholy songs or beatboxing madness, all almost entirely vocal, went on over the top. Her new album, ‘Music Hole’ is a beguilingly daft set of songs in English which is again vocally whacksome.

Camille meandered on and sidestepped strangely over the stage in the shadows, finally coming mock-uncertainly to the mic, looking like a Dutch pixie in a kind of bright orange poncho-tent. She took a breath or two, then stopped and said in her lilting accent, ‘I can’t do it. I have a friend who can’t come til nine’ and bolted off. The shape of the kooky gamine humour – possibly an acquired taste - to come.

Camille had an ebullient 7-piece backing band of vocalists and very occasional piano from producer MaJiKer; they also pounded their bodies and stomp-boxed enough to create hardcore electro beats, ably helped by two beatboxers. Squealing, hiccupping, miaowing, crooning, dancing, clapping, slapping, Camille and co whipped through most of ‘Music Hole’ and lots of ‘Le Fil’. She got the crowd to join in with her bonkers chanted version of ‘Humpty Dumpty Sat on A WALL!’ and ‘Too Drunk to Fuck’ and did a lovely mash-up of ‘Pale Septembre’ and ‘Winter’s Child’ sat at the piano. Highlights were ‘Cats and Dogs’, where she chased the security guard at the front until he woofed into the mic as she’d requested, the vocally-rollicking ‘Ta Douleur’ and ‘Money Note’ - the piss-taking number about how ‘Dolly Parton wrote it/And Whitney Houston stole it/I’ll hit the money note’- which revealed a lavish gold curtain at the back as Camille soared up to Mariah Carey-beating levels of histrionics. Later she revealed the skintight orange number she sports on her album cover, only to trump that in the encores with a satiny black number - all Audrey Hepburn-esque demureness from the front, and massive pert-bottom-revealing cut-out at the back, much to the wide-jawed delight of the men in the crowd. At the end of three encores, the band crowded round Camille’s mic to crow drunken harmonies to ‘Paris’, the English/French crowd piling in like part of a 19th-century music hall sing-song. She may be a bit silly and winsome and Bobby McFerrin-esque for some, but for a juice-lovin’ vocalist like moi, Camille est parfaite!

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