There’s a certain weight of history surrounding a Charlotte Gainsbourg show. The connections with her father, Serge, are inescapable, coupled with the fact that the singer/actor very rarely performs live, created a hefty enigmatic tension on a damp Thursday night in London.

Rest, released late last year, is an album immersed in death; the death of Gainsbourg’s sister (Kate Barry) providing the inspiration for the album, written in New York after she felt she had to escape Paris. It’s Rest that made up the vast majority of the live show at Village Underground, the crisp neo-disco sounding punchy, forlorn, yet frequently joyful.

Gainsbourg hid behind her keyboard fairly deep into the stage for the most, boxed in by strip lighting that while looked impressive and worked in synergy with the sharp electronic tones as featured on Rest, kept Gainsbourg herself a bit in the dark (why yes this would have been a photographer’s nightmare to shoot). There’s always been a discomfort to the singer’s live performances - one of the reasons for very rarely touring - and it’s evident in her style tonight. Lana Del Rey-esque. However, it’s something that works in her favour, adding to the enigmatic nature of her persona and creating a real intrigue to proceedings. She barely spoke to the audience throughout to maintain this notion.

Sprawling tracks such as ‘Deadly Valentine’ are wonderful, as is the woozy, sleek, ‘Kate’; Gainsbourg’s breathy vocals, the incredibly tight backing band, and crisp soundsystem make for a treat - it could all have fallen down if the whole package didn’t sound… excellent (yes this could be said of a lot of gigs, but it’s especially true of this show). ‘The Songs That We Sing’ from 5:55 and ‘Heaven Can Wait’ from IRM were the only other non-Rest original tracks. Adding to the quasi-cryptic vibe was the mix of French and English lyrics - yet another push-and pull-tension to play with alongside the lightness and darkness; lightness and darkness in both a literal visual sense and also the substance of the tracks.

The set ended with a spine-tingling double-header of Kanye’s ‘Runaway’ followed by her father’s iconic number ‘Lemon Incest’. Don’t leave it another six years until your next visit Charlotte, s'il vous plaît, as this was a treat.

Setlist

'Lying With You'
'Ring a Ring O'Roses'
'I'm a Lie'
'Songbird'
'Sylvia Says'
'The Songs That We Sing'
'Les Crocodiles'
'Deadly Valentine'
'Kate'
'Charlotte For Ever'
'Rest'
'Heaven Can Wait'
'Les Oxalis'

--Encore--

'Runaway'
'Lemon Incest'