CONCERT REVIEW: THE MORNING BENDERS & THE RODEO AT NOUVEAU CASINO (PARIS)
Ina J brings a wholly unique perspective to Mezzic. A Canadian who moved to Paris three years ago to play music, she exemplifies that inescapable, creative essence that unconsciously tugs artists worldwide to the City of Lights. We couldn’t be happier to have Ina J (and now Paris) on board with Mezzic! Please do check out her site after her stellar concert review! (John) All photos (c) Sarah Preston 2010
The voice on the PA system announced The Rodeo as the show’s opener. I suddenly wondered if/why the band chose yet another soft-spoken heavy-French accented Parisian folk singer to warm up their audience with her fragility. A first answer is that both bands share a French booking agent. The second is that The Rodeo – an anagram for her real name « Dorothée Hannequin »- thankfully encompasses few of the tropes one can tie to a hip Parisian girlie folk singer. She might look fragile, but her songs are anything but. Clear, strong, wide in range – her voice is beautifully maneuvred to forge a hybrid « singing accent » that’s a cross between a southern drawl and standard chic Parisian French. One could obviously compare her tone to that of Bjork or Cat Power. But after a few songs, I felt like there was something distinctly European about it and decided that Lonely Drifter Karen would be a much closer stylistic fit. Mind you, the Rodeo’s «dark hoe-down » vibe marks the authenticity of her act.
The songs are well-constructed, and while the melodies are memorable, after about five songs of heavy solo strumming guitar, my attention tends to waver. This doesn’t mean she isn’t worth seeing. She was a great tease for the show to come. But I expected a little more out of her, and I suspect I can find it should I ever attend a full-band performance. Without a doubt, she’s a strong contender to be a major player in « La Nouvelle Scène Française ».
Finally, the band I had shelled out 20 euros for took the stage. They kick off their set with « Hand Me Downs » and by the time the mantra « You don’t know me by name… » has been seemingly sung a dozen times, band leader Chris Chu has already broken his E-string. We wait for the roadie to fix things while the band buys time with a cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s « Dreams ». Unfortunately, I mostly remember The Corrs‘ awful and catchy version of this song so their cover up more annoying than it was trying to be cute. Still, I figured they would follow up with something so great, I would forget anything they had just played before. On comes « Boarded Doors » from the band’s first album. The American-heavy audience goes nuts, heckling « Chris, you’re so hot! » at the lead. I wonder if this makes him uncomfortable or just boosts his ego as he pays the heckles no attention and carries on with the set. I found myself enjoying the quality of the music, even humming to the songs I usually skip when I listen to « Big Echo » on my Ipod,. But something in the set’s energy is off.
Their songs are all gorgeous, intricately structured gems but the poorly layed out set list order works against them. The result is a brief 45 minute anti-climactic show that leaves an audience unsure if they want more or less. It’s unfortunate seeing as Chris Chu is usually charismatic enough to charm the pants off anyone but he just came off as cocky and relatively unmoved by how much love the audience had for him. I wasn’t surprised when they played their beautiful radio-friendly « Promises » as their grand premature finale. I wish they hadn’t given in too soon to an audience begging for their big hit: I wish I had gotten more musical foreplay.