Wellington Jazz Festival, Town Hall
March 6 | Reviewed by Alexander Bisley

“BONSOIR, bonsoir Wellington,” from the moment Mélanie Pain opened her mouth with that classic Parisian inflection; the Pacific Blue Note audience was charmed. They lapped up everything she did. With big, expressive eyes glinting mischievously, immaculately coiffured hair and a chic white dress, there’s no denying Mélanie looks “top”, a cultural archetype purer than Bordeaux Baguette.

After a curious opener about cowgirls and cowboys, Mélanie hit her straps with the plaintive, plangent ‘Ignore-Moi’. “It means the opposite actually,” she purred wistfully, before launching into the first of numerous tales of unrequited love. With lines like “I have so many bruises, I have so many scars”, “See the boat going in the sea” and “How can you live without me?” in songs like ‘Adieu, Mon Amour’, her themes were clear.

Nouvelle Vague’s Beyonce changed thrust a bit with her cover of the Sex Pistols punk-anarchist anthem ‘God Save the Queen’. “God save the Queen/And the fucking fascist regime,” Mélanie coquettishly approached tables, while sticking it to the Roast Beefs.

Then it was back to her turangawaewae with the lushly dreamy ‘Peut Etre Pas’ (Maybe Not) and, from her album of the same title, ‘My Name’. Not many are gonna object to flights of Parisian escapism presented with extravagant cuteness.

The Wellington Jazz Festival has done well converting the Town Hall into an intimate, atmospheric jazz venue.

On Thursday night, Roy Ayers and his talented five comrades kicked off the Festival with a virtuosic performance. Ayers and his band were really enjoying themselves, and it came off in much sampled hits like ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ and notable solos.