30 April 2007

I come home on Saturday morning

So on Friday, in a continuation of the French Spring festival, I went to the Nouvelle Vague concert down at Hafnarhúsið (the harbor house, AKA Reykjavík Art Museum). It's a smallish venue with lots of lobby space and a well-organized ticketing process, so there was no standing around outside, no rushing the doors, or any of the usual concertgoing mania one gets when Not In Reykjavík. In fact, the only line I stood in was the line for my free beer. Although I'm sure the price was built into the ticket, it was so unexpected (FREE BOOZE! Are we still in Iceland?) that everyone started the evening off with that frisson of joy that free stuff gives you. Plus, when it's an audience of Icelanders, it does take a while to loosen them up for the clapping, the swaying, and sing-along, even when regaled with Latin American syncopation.

The crowd was Pretty People Reykjavík- lots of suits, lots of edgy and expensive glasses frames, lots of carefully styled disheveled hair on the women, and square jaws, dewy lips, and high cheekbones everywhere. Pleasant crowd-watching for sure. We situated ourselves at the perfect acoustic distance from the speakers, at a place where I could see through all the very tall people in the audience (even with heels making me about 5'11", I felt short there).

I'd only heard three songs by the group, and I don't know any of the band member's names, so like usual when I go to concerts here, I had no idea what I was in for. Adventures at every turn! Anyway, the group came out almost perfectly punctually (no opening act)- two female singers who I'll call by their dresses: sparkly and fringy, a guitarist, a bass player (the classical kind), keyboards, and percussion.

For the uninitiated, this is basically a cover band, playing songs by Blondie, Billy Idol, the Specials, the Clash, and a slew of others. They've Done Stuff to all of them, so for some people this is probably scandalous. However, when they're sung by a beguiling befringed babe with arm movements reminiscent of the illustrations of the famous 19th century singer Yvette Guilbert, it's hard to be angry.

They may have been borrowed tunes, but "Dancing with myself" done as a 30's jazz club ditty is actually pretty cool, and the two singers both had fascinating voices. Fringy had pipes like Janis Joplin crossed with a vintage singer that should have been draped across a piano, and Sparkly was husky, personal, and full of emotion. When they sang together it was another feeling altogether. They were fun to watch too, and actually looked like they were actually enjoying performing themselves (the glasses of what I am pretty sure was wine probably helped a bit too).

The rest of the group was equally entertaining. I couldn't see much of the keyboardist and his Mac thanks to Mr. Viking Banker in front of me, but the Brazilian flavors of the percussionist were catchy, and the bass player's one moment of glory was very moving. Plus, his red cowboy shirt was scorchingly awesome.

We managed to clap and stomp and "meira" our way to two encores, but the gig was up after only 2 hours, which caused another concertgoer to grumble that even concerts on Tuesdays didn't end so early. It did mean that the night was plenty young enough for a round of drinks up the hill at b5, where about half the place was carrying the bags from the CD sale table at the concert.

The other half was busy being beautiful or, in typical Reykavík fashion, watching or playing the chess game that was going on at the long table next to us. Yep, one of the style hound bars of Reykjavík, on a clear Friday evening, contains people playing games of strategy over beer. And there you have it. Friday to Saturday in our fair city.


CanCan (French) said...

Lautrec did not intentionally make "La" Guilbert ugly. I think he liked her, a lot. He just painted as he saw her - although without high heels, but who knows... What he saw was an icon; gestures, poses pieces of heart (sacred?).

Despite the gargantuan inflation of the always wider bankers, also often depicted by TL , despite the blonds and the bier in lieu of red wine, you had your little Nordic Montmartre! With free booze? C'est fantastique! Garcon une absinthe...

cK said...

Nice adventure. I'd be jealous (as usual) but actually took a five-day vacation in San Francisco...so for once I'm not going to be jealous of your Icelandic wanderings!

Is the title ("I Go Home on Saturday") related to after the event? or this coming Saturday meaning you are taking another trip to New England? Or are you departing Iceland entirely? Just curious. You are free to leave me indefinitely in suspence.

ECS said...

cancan: An intriguing and mysterious commentary.. Are you the Eliot poster of yore?

ck: You travel often and everywhere, based on my readings of your own blog! As for the title, it's hardly as mysterious as you seem to think and hope but I'll leave you thinking there's all kinds of Fantastic Intrigue :-)

CanCan (French) said...

Dear E, You invite me, gracefully.
I like the idea of times collapsing - I have been told there are many - when parody in its irony and grotesque brings you to a well known reality, a second degree reading that just makes you at ease with what you feel, what you see, what you hear, who you are and what you think you are. There were no Pound nor Eliot intended, no tragic heros, just the intimate contemplation of a collective ecstatic libertinism - somewhat French - in high heels committed in a state of alcoholic intoxication just behind a fat or taller banker. EXACTLY what Toulouse Lautrec was about... He painted what he saw - only from a lower station... Which explaines the perspective (bad). You were E and the nightingales reporting... on heels. As for the personal comments about bier and the blond... well I have to admit that red is much more my color and I really think that it's simply healthier - iron - from a purely public health point of view - to which a I am very attached. No mysteries, no coffee. And yes it's an old story. Although I am surprised you didn't mentioned the stars of that night. Over there you are drifting so fast. Can't you see Orion yet?