Steve Nieve, the classically trained, agile, and accomplished keyboardist, has been streaming quarantine shows from his home in France (near the English Channel) as “the Immobile Tour” (tinyurl/com.zubimmobile). His crew at home consists of Muriel Tedori, his French wife and cameraperson, and her son, Antoine Jules Ulysse Quessada, known professionally as AJUQ, a singer and drummer. Tonight’s show was their new year's eve ”Lo Res Evening,” and it did not disappoint.
The show started with The Zombies ‘This Will Be Our Year,’ a perfect beginning with Steve singing. Muriel was doing her hype-man bit very well, as it was 30 minutes to the new year in Paris. AJUQ sang the ballad ‘Stain Of Hope,’ which was beautiful. They played a pre-recorded message from Chris Difford, who was solemn in his garden shed, but his wit (always on display in this Squeeze lyrics) shone through. Their bond is strong: Nieve was friends with Squeeze before joining a band himself, and even toured with Squeeze during pianist interregnums.
AJUQ sang ‘Oh How They Danced,’ a wonderful, understated ballad. Next message was from Alex Cornish, a favorite at Chez Nieve. In a surprise. AJUQ sang Green Day’s ‘Wake Me Up When December Ends,’ which turns out to have a great melody; he also played drums. Steve remarked that “I love Green Day.” Up next was a video from Elvis Costello singing the Tin Pan Alley standard, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” accompanying himself on acoustic very nicely. Sounded fantastic. AJUQ sang ‘Next Year’ by The Foo Fighters. A video from French artist Kelly had him singing ‘Amazing Grace.’ Then AJUQ warned it was time for kitsch and they played Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ (complete with sampled blaring horns!) for the new year beginning in France. The party was on.
Steve slowed it down with ‘What A Wonderful World.’ It was indeed wonderful as he and AJUQ traded verses. AJUQ said “I’ve got a message for all of you,” And they launched into The Turtles’ ‘Happy Together,’ lots of fun with a neat solo from Steve. Waiting for a call, Steve started ‘One Minute To Midnight.’ This was interrupted by a call from their friend Sophie Auster, in New York, who sang her song ‘Mexico.’ Next was a call from Imposter Davey Faragher, playing upright bass with his son, Charlie on drums. Steve played along as they did ‘Let It Roll,’ a great walking blues. Steve did a snippet of a song and kissed Muriel and AJUQ.
Next call was from Attraction/Imposter drummer Pete Thomas from Los Angeles, wearing a cowboy hat and playing a cowboy guitar. He and Davey play in a cowboy band in LA, Jack Shit, and Pete shows genuine affection for the genre He sang surprisingly well on a “prairie” song called ‘Hold That Critter Down,’ adding some yodeling. It was remarkable. When AJUQ, who grew up backstage at Costello shows, joined in on drums, mother Muriel joked “You dare!?” AJUQ, acknowledging the “audacity”, replied “I dare!” while nonchalantly playing drums, backing a giant of the drumming world.
Waiting for AJUQ to reload the Instagram stream, Steve sang ‘The Roads’ especially for Muriel. It was surprisingly touching. AJUQ sang an impassioned version of ‘It’s A Brand New Day,’ with some French verses.
Saying “I used to hate this song, but I’ve come around,” AJUQ launched into Cher’s ‘Believe.’ This was, again, surprisingly good, in their hands out went the robot vocals and it became a ballad with soaring vocals. Next call was Elvis from Vancouver Island: he played ‘This Year’s Girl’ with Steve playing along. This went straight into ‘Out Of Time,’ a great Stones cover. Elvis then played his new single, ‘Farewell OK,’ just released on the Internet. Elvis outlined a busy release schedule, speaking excitedly about the upcoming remix of This Year’s Model. Spanish language singers are overdubbing the old masters, which he says sound remarkably fresh. He told Steve that “you, Pete, and that other guy” made an incredible recording. Then they reprised ‘The Final Countdown’ for the UK midnight.
A constant of these multi-device streams is technical glitches. The hosts restarted the computer and tried to call Elvis for a final song. Playing the piano, a reconnected Costello sang ‘It’s Time That You Love,’ a beautiful ballad by Tom Waits sung with real passion.
Next video was from Kathryn Williams, singing a sweet song along with playing acoustic guitar. She has a delicate voice and the song was great. There was discussion of how to end the show. Once settled, Steve sang Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart,’ the last thing I expected to hear. They restarted Instagram, and Muriel sang “Indoor Fireworks,’ it was charming and lovely.
Glenn Tilbrook appeared on video, and did a great, effortless version of ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ for his recently departed uncle; it was his uncle's favorite song. AJUQ followed with a solemn version of Tom Waits ‘Downtown Train,’ stately and wonderful. On camera was Benmont Tench, with a positive message for the new year. To end things up, AJUQ sang Bowie’s ‘Heroes.’ impassioned vocals with amazing piano backing from Mr. Nieve.
They did a Zoom look-in, which was a bit of an audio mess, but they were having a great time with the fans. They ended with ‘What’s So Funny ‘bout (Peace, Love and Understanding)’ with the Zoom crowd singing along, time lags turning it into a totally disjoined round. We didn’t mind; it was a fitting end to a fantastic show and a celebration of the intimate community we had all built together. They added on an instrumental piece (Bach?) at the very end which was a sweet way to part.
These three put on a great party. It was uplifting and inspiring and with a level of incredible musicianship The song selection was broad (Green Day, Foo Fighters, ABBA, Waits, Tin Pan Alley’s Frank Loesser) and there was love through the whole two and a half hour show, along with great guests. Thanks Steve, Muriel, and AJUQ! You have been a beam of light and hope in the darkening gray of 2020. I couldn’t think of a better way to start 2021.
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