Carla Bruni Brings Her French Touch to Boston
Singer and songwriter Carla Bruni leads a remarkable life, to say the least. Since moving to France at the age of seven, the Italian-born chanteuse boasts an impressive arsenal of personal and professional accomplishments. She has notably strutted the runways for prestigious fashion houses, like Givenchy and Dior, as a former supermodel. Dabbling in film, Bruni famously schools Michael Sheen’s pretentious character, Paul, as a museum guide in the movie, Midnight in Paris. Her personal life is even more thrilling, having canoodled with legendary musicians like Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger before settling down to marry former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy. The list goes on. In short, boredom simply isn’t part of her vernacular.
Despite it all, Carla Bruni has always possessed an unbridled love for singing and songwriting. From strumming her guitar to classic songs as a child, to topping charts with her own music in adulthood, Bruni genuinely loves what she does. Recently, Boston had the pleasure of hosting Carla Bruni at the Berklee Performance Center as she tours for her latest album, French Touch.
Performing with the French Touch
The Berklee Performance Center was the perfect venue to watch Bruni. The space is large enough to satisfy the true feeling of being at a concert. However, even with over a thousand seats, the venue still feels gloriously cozy. Given that Bruni aims to give her audience a genuine sense of intimacy, the setting couldn’t have been more impeccable.
In her musical space, Bruni prefers the balance between sensual innocence and romantic succulence. As Bruni explained at the Boston performance, she sings and writes tender music as a backdrop for lovers to relax and intimately enjoy together. Her light, smoky, and sultry voice paired with the smooth jazz instrumentals of her band could surely send even the most scornful of hearts into a blissful flutter. Bruni’s stage presence is sinuous and swanlike. Her delicately elongated fingers tactfully twirl and meander around the microphone as if sewing a piece of lace to the air. This is in stark contrast to her edgy, rock star appearance- clad in black leather pants, black boots, and a selection of chic blazers. Most surprising is Bruni’s overall demeanor. For someone who walked fashion runways and dated notorious rock stars, Carla Bruni exuded a genuine sweet and demure personality. She blushed with a wide grin when someone from the audience playfully shouted, “Nicholas!” before she began singing one of her many love songs. Between songs, her dainty voice was so hushed she seemed almost bashful. It was refreshing.
Promoting French Touch- a collection of covers celebrating her favorite English songs- Bruni delighted fans with her greatest hits, past and present. Set highlights included jazzy renditions of Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode), Highway to Hell (AC/DC), Miss You (The Rolling Stones), Perfect Day (Lou Reed), and Moon River (from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Notably, Highway to Hell was most pleasantly jarring because the original iconic AC/DC track feels like a melodic journey into recklessness and self-destruction. Bruni, however, reinvents the tune with a flirty playfulness that seems more fitting for a cute game of cat and mouse, rather than the belligerent debauchery the song in its original form suggests. Also surprising were the cheerful notes from Bruni’s cover of Perfect Day. The Lou Reed hit in its original arrangement is rumored to reflect the grim backdrop of the singer’s personal struggle with drugs and sexuality. In contrast, Bruni’s jaunty cover actually makes you believe the song is literally about a sugary day between lovers. Regardless, these are brave songs to cover and reinterpret as ballads, but Bruni manages to do this with her trademark sinuous finesse, indeed giving some of these grittier numbers the French touch.
Boston will Miss You, Carla
There’s no denying that Carla Bruni is lovely live. Despite her fame and notoriety, she emits a genuine and humble passion for music, which is especially revealed during her performance. I’ve decided that if I ever win the lottery, I’m hiring her to sing Moon River to me every day. I need that in my life.
À la prochaine.
NOTE: Feature photo courtesy of Ilya Mirman Photography. A special merci beaucoup to Ilya Mirman who graciously permitted the use of his beautiful photography for use in this post. He brilliantly captured the true essence of Carla Bruni’s grace, and I encourage you all to check out his work: http://www.ilyamirman.com/ .