What do you mean, play the hits?
Originally released in limited quantities, this live album captures Nouvelle Vague in a reflective and entertaining mood, in front of a very enthusiastic Portuguese crowd. Live albums are difficult to get right because artists have to balance the demands of the concert-going public with the needs of aural inclusivity for the home listener. Recordings of the live experience should therefore feel at once familiar, yet intimate and special.
There are a handful of genuine genre classics and whilst this doesn’t quite fall into that category, it is a very good attempt. It succeeds where so many others have failed, by creating a loose and free-wheeling sound which should please listeners today, as much as it appears to have pleased the assembled crowd back in 2009.
Of course, the phrase “Play the hits!” is something that will never be shouted from the back of a quiet auditorium at Nouvelle Vague, as their set comprises of nothing but sweet, bossa-nova-esque covers of New Wave classics. Live highlights include a particularly spirited version of Yazoo’s “Don’t Go”, a bluesy stomp through The Cramps “Human Fly”, a joyous, clap-along to the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in The Sun” and album closer “Relax”, a stunning, mournful version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s classic. If you are already a fan, then this will do nothing to sour your love for the band. For recent converts or those unsure of their unique style, it should go without saying that live albums are not for the uninitiated.