Nouvelle Vague Acoustic @ The Workman's Club, July 18th 2012

It's been 18 months since Nouvelle Vague have graced Dublin with their presence, and the announcement of a duo of acoustic shows in the intimate confines of The Workman's Club came with little lead-in time, making it all the more exciting. Originating with a desire to cover 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' in bossa-nova style, the notion of Nouvelle Vague as masterminded by musicians Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux with the help of a bevy of evolving female leads have been winning audiences over worldwide since 2004 with their quirky takes on new wave and punk classics. In theory, Nouvelle Vague are a covers band - but in practicing their unique art, they are SO much more.

Leading the charge tonight are the returning heroines of last year's full band Tripod show, the irresistible duo of Mareva Galanter and Liset Aléa. The juxtaposition between the two performers is stark - Galanter is coy and demure, her broken English endearing and her performance style, especially whilst singing in her native French, is impossibly elegant and alluring; whilst Aléa is the more gregarious of the pair, at ease bantering with her audience, and captivating with both the might of her vocal abilities and her instrumental talents. They certainly know how to effectively work off each other's strengths, too. These new acoustic arrangements of 'Guns of Brixton', 'Teenage Kicks' and 'Dancing With Myself' work extremely well, Collin and Libaux commanding over the subdued strings, beats n' blips in the background as Galanter and Aléa preside over an array of percussive instruments, complimenting to perfection. Dual vocals soar and cast a spell over the capacity audience - their take on Modern English's 'I Melt With You' is especially dazzling, with Aléa taking over guitar duty, and backed by violin and melodica she delivers a goosebump-inducing rendition of the one-hit-wonder.

Departing to deafening cheers, it was inevitable that Nouvelle Vague returned for an encore - with Aléa again showing herself to be a skilful classical guitarist with an impeccable interpretation of The Stranglers' 'Golden Brown'. As if it the sweaty confines of the Workman's Club weren't hot enough already, Galanter turns it up another notch with her smouldering take on Manu Chao's 'Mala Vida' - the multilingual vocal competence of both herself and her Cuban-American counterpart's again at the fore. It's a democratic process to decide the evening's closer - the male faction shout for 'Ever Fallen In Love', as the female presence urges for 'In A Manner Of Speaking'. Thankfully, Nouvelle Vague give us both - the former a raucous singalong, the latter quite simply stunning. Since wowing on their 2004 eponymous debut album, 'In A Manner Of Speaking' is for many the song that is synonymous with the Nouvelle Vague brand - regardless of who is singing it in whatever city of the world on which given night, it's the one that will continually steal the show. And tonight, on a balmy Wednesday evening in Dublin, Mareva Galanter and Liset Aléa not only made it their own - but let the full house in on it, too.