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Serge Gainsbourg Tribute - NME August 2011

Serge Gainsbourg Tribute – Hollywood Bowl  August 28 2011

Having read mountains about Gainsbourg preempting this performance, I came to the conclusion that  if I had a dollar for every time the word louche was used in reference to the French sixties icon I could have been comfortably pissed at the Bowl for this gig (yep like every tourist trap booze its overpriced.)

Yet, in keeping with obligations I remained dutifully sober. A balmy Sunday night, played host to Beck, Mark Patton, Julian Lennon and his far more interesting girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl  offering worthy homage to the legend  that is Serge Gainsbourg.

With a capacity of about 15,000 the Hollywood Bowl is always a good laugh, and after a heavy promo by "serious," music lovers public radio station KCRW, all the tasteful people were there, though some of LA were so willing to digest the marketing hype, with the bowl about 75 percent full.

A plethora of middle aged Francophiles arty acid casualties and hipster kids who like to dance to Bonnie and Clyde on blow converged on the  venue for what was, for the most part a quality time

With much fuss being made about Gainsbourg, in the form of  a forthcoming film biop "Gainsbourg: Une Vie Héroïque" ,it seems to me the work of  this once oversexed alcoholic who died a while back can be a tad over intellectualized, when really  his shit was about shagging on drugs.

With pop culture intellectuals dissecting  every nuance of the performance, one cannot but laugh at tunes  thematically devoted to a middle aged French bloke bedding a 15 year old chick he ran over in his Rolls Royce ( ) and another about how compliant chicks are on acid, affording an easy bonking session (again).  Word even has it that his former muse Brigitte Bardot famous for her moaning on  his most notorious single, "Je t'aime, Moi Non Plus,"  actually attained orgasm during the recording session, courtesy of Gainsbourg's oral talents.

Anyway,  enough of the intellectual analysis. The stars were wheeled out. First up Serge's son Lulu doing a version of  some early songs – in a nutshell, unimpressive and obviously the first time Lulu had performed in public, despite tutoring from his yankie mates he failed on the night, but will no doubt get better with practice.

Next  New York multi millionaire dandy Sean Lennon – who can afford great meals, infinite studio time and a girlfriend he doesn't deserve, in the form of Charlotte Kemp Muhl did a decent  version of Comic Strip though thoroughly destroyed Bonnie and Clyde, despite Kemp Muhl's red lipped moans.

Mike Patton entered the picture looking healthy with some gravel throated renditions of  La Decadanse", and  "Requiem Pour Un Con," sounding like  the bastard child of inspector Clouseau and Tom Waits  still he dressed like a punk pimp and people clapped.

Also on the list was a gormless looking beck who seemed to suffering from some form of personality bypass, nivce hat though. He squarked out versions of "Teenie Weenie Boppie,"   and  "Cargo Culte." that people seemed to like

For the finale of "Melody Nelson," a that actor bloke Joseph Gordon-Levitt stepped in  to show that you need not be a musician to speak/sing. Some wicked Stratocaster warbling and an orchestra rhythm section giving him added sauciness.

Despite the implied sophistication of the French language, Gainsbourg's twee lyrics, question his reputation as an avante guard patriarch, suggesting he was more a conceptualist than a technical wizard.

It seems  the real strength of Gainsbourg the existentialist  was more about riding sensationalism and pranking the establishment than impressing the bourgeois- pass the overpriced cheese thanks.

Craig Stephens