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Vanessa Paradis au Zénith (Live Zenith 2001)

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Album Review

For those who thought the star of the lithe and nubile French chanteuse Vanessa Paradis had waned when she turned 20, think again. At the age of 29 she appeared at the Zenith in Paris with a crack band that included the Attractions' Steve Nieve on keyboards. And as this set will attest, she tore the joint to shreds. Sure, the hits are here so that lowers the ante, but given how easy it would be to run through the classics for a live record, this is remarkable. From the gorgeously staged duet intro with Nieve to the crunching guitars that usher in "L'Eau et le Vin," with its funky horn breaks and roots rock guitar riffs, Paradis knows how to stage a show in front of the hometown crowd. Nieve is especially valuable here because of his many sounds on the keyboard and his effectiveness as a musical director. On the jazzed-up version of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," Nieve keeps the band in the pocket until he needs them to cut loose to prop up a subtly delivered vocal. When they do kick it, they put the track in overdrive. The version of "Joe le Taxi" is more than passable after all these years, and dueling guitars and horns kick up the delivery a notch or two. But the finest moments here are the stirring, funky version of Serge Gainsbourg's "Requiem Pour un Con" and the rollicking "Commando." To be sure, one would never think she could rock this hard. In all, this is a fine set from someone listeners don't hear enough of on this side of the Atlantic.


Born: 22 September 1972 in Saint-Maur-Des-Fossés, Val-De-Mar

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

French singer and model Vanessa Paradis first hit the charts in 1987 at the tender age of 14. Her single "Joe le Taxi" spent 11 weeks at the top of the French charts, and proved an international success as well. She recorded two albums in Paris before traveling to New York in 1992 to record her self-titled English-language debut, with one-time boyfriend Lenny Kravitz as producer. The album's "Be My Baby" was also a hit, but Paradis' popularity waned a bit. Among the various film, television, and...
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Vanessa Paradis au Zénith (Live Zenith 2001), Vanessa Paradis
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