So Frenchy So Chic – Clara Luciani
Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre
As recent January weekends have reminded me, there is an egalitarian appeal to a summer Sunday session of either ales or cocktails. Regardless of one’s beverage of choice, however, there is nothing like live music to top it off and when the tunes come courtesy of luminous Paris-based musician Clara Luciani, it can only make for the most satisfying of sophisticated Sunday afternoon-into-evening outings. Judging by the appreciative crowd gathered for the first Brisbane Powerhouse show for the year, the return of “So Frenchy So Chic”, it seems many are in agreement.
With her vintage styling and heavy-fringed brunette looks, Luciani certainly looks the part, in that effortlessly-fashionable French way. Even though most of her songs are laments about love, the charismatic Marseilles-born artist’s live show seems more groovy than glum. Indeed, those expecting a sedate experience of the laid-back smoky-jazz sort may be disappointed, through likely also happily surprised.
From the moment the show bursts to life with ‘On ne meurt pas d’amour’ there is an undeniable chic coolness that comes courtesy not only of the former member of the eccentric psych-punk band La Femme, but also the brilliant band of musicians, who names I wish I could locate to rave about in more unambiguous praise. The follow-up, more-moody and sensual ‘Eddy’ is equally musically impressive, leaving new-to-her-talent audience members like myself, excited for what is to come.
The catchy ‘Comme toi’ about love’s complications is another snappy showcase of the on-point four-piece band (which also sometimes features Luciani on guitar). The intoxication continues as things slow hauntingly with an almost-ethereal, but also earthily-deep, ‘Drôle d’époque’, which she tells us is about being a woman in these strange times. Indeed, it is a testament to this musical artist’s skill as a songstress, that she is able to take us so easily from the sad love song lament of her early-career ‘Monstre d’amour’ (Monster of Love) to the light-hearted naughtiness of the newer ‘Nue’ (Naked) – which bounces along like a good The Go-Betweens melody.
The show is full of pleasant surprises in which to delight, like the discovery of a song about the quiet beauty of flowers, ‘Les fleurs’, complete with electronic sounds that only add to its captivation. And then there is our trip along together, not to Paris, London, Berlin, Hong Kong or Tokyo, but ‘the bay’. For over seven magnificent minutes, the audience is on their feet, united in clap and dance along disco-shaded celebration of the Metronomy cover ‘La baie’. Indeed, it is a real highlight, that would likely make a better encore than Luciani’s intimate solo ‘Jean bleu’ cover of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Blue Jeans’.
At times richly textured, and at other spirited, despite its songs mostly being tales of broken-heartedness, “So Frenchy So Chic – Clara Luciani” is an enigmatic show, almost too difficult to describe beyond just exclamation of its marvel. While its style is undeniably and delightfully French, its experience serves as proof that you don’t need to understand lyrics to feel the joy of pure pleasure of musical moments, without burden of distracting thoughts.
Luciani says at one stage in her alluring accent, she doesn’t know English too well. This creates no issues at all, especially as the music is just so good. Add to this, its appealing authenticity and catchy charm and you have a must-see musical show. Unfortunately, this was the last stop of the alluring modern performer’s Australian tour. Like many, I certainly hope she will return sooner rather than later. In the meantime, there is always her debut album ‘Sainte–Victoire’ for recollection of a fabulous Sunday session of music.