Skip to main content

Heloise and the Savoir Faire

Jazz Bar, Edinburgh
4 stars
As befits a band from New York who play a song called Downtown, Heloise and the Savoir Faire are impeccably connected, and their mix of art-house cool and showbiz glitz must have Andy Warhol watching over them with gosh-gee pride. The boss of their record label, Simian, after all, is some-time big-screen hobbit Elijah Wood, who makes an incongruous cameo on debut album, Trash, Rats and Microphones, alongside the Big Apple’s original glam queen, Deborah Harry of Blondie. In UK terms, appearances on The Graham Norton Show and The Friday Night Project don’t quite match up, which may be why they haven’t crossed over in the same way superficial kindred spirits Scissor Sisters took the world by storm. Judging by the power and pizzazz of this mini tour which shimmies into London next week, however, it’s just a matter of time.

Sporting a gold lame mini dress topped by a shock of blonde hair that makes her look even larger than life than she is, Heloise Williams leads her troupe of well-turned-out social deviants through a set of post-punk gay disco cabaret that could have sashayed straight off a fashion week catwalk. With Korg-playing dance-master Joe Shepard and pint-sized foil Sara Sweet clad in an eye-catching array of spangly hot-pants, DIY tiaras, Playboy t-shirts and indecently figure-hugging leggings, their dead-pan shape-throwing routines make for some floor-show, especially when Williams joins in with unabashed gusto.

Behind the front-line is a funkily well-oiled guitar/bass/drums power trio, whose choppy licks fuel the machine only a tad generically. On top of all this is Williams’ forceful fog-horn voice, a full-throated marvel that would leave Beth Ditto out of breath yet retains a smidgen of B-52s style mischief. With a late-night audience perhaps expecting an altogether smoother sound than something so in their faces, the dance-floor doesn’t move as much as it should. Not that the band back off in any way, mind.

It does, however, make one wonder whether in such a fast-moving scene, Williams may have already missed her moment. By rights, she should, and hopefully will, be sassing it up alongside the current crop of female artists about to elbow the army of skinny indie-boy bands off-stage. In the meantime, given the cosiness of the venue, Heloise and the Savoir Faire should be seized upon as a slice of New York’s underground squatting in a home from home they’ll be moving on up from any day now.

At 444@The Rainbow, Birmingham, January 30; The Monarch, London, January 31; Moles, Bath, February 1; 93 Feet East, London, February 2; Korova, Liverpool, February 3

Intended for The Guardian, February 2009, but never published

Ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…