The Christmas Spiegeltent, erected for the festive period in Millennium Square, hosted the world premier of something a little bit different. Marc Collin of Nouvelle Vague fame has a new project: Bristol. No, not the city itself, but a French band designed to play homage to the great city’s trip-hop era. Material by Massive Attack, Portishead and Morcheeba are reinvented in gallic style and transformed using 60s film soundtracks as a template.
It is an interesting and novel idea, and the Spiegeltent is the perfect setting for it, glimmering as it does like a psychadelic circus designed by Donna Summer. Complemented by jet black outfits (turtlenecks included), Bristol pull off that nonchalant coolness our cousins across the Channel are famed for, and their sound combines jarring guitar twangs with mellow keyboard soundscapes. Songs like Portishead’s ‘Roads’, a highlight of the evening, are re-imagined with most of the energy drawn out, the lyrics murmuring and the basslines sparse.
Songs like Perry Blake’s ‘Widows by the Radio, Massive Attack’s ‘Safe From Harm’ and Hooverphonic’s ‘Mad About You’ are all covered, and a striking duet between Collin on guitar and Clara Luciani on vocals hushes the chattering crowd. Simon Russell from Monk & Cantanella, whose 1996 album Care in the Community is a prime example of the trip-hop sound, also made an appearance to sing ‘I Can Water My Plants’.
From appearances, the crowd is of that trip-hop generation, and are here to revel in the reworked nostalgia of their youth, their uni days sparkling with Bristol being the centre of the music world. Marc Collin and Bristol manage to write a dedicated love letter to the generation.