She’s from Brazil, he’s from Denmark and they are collectively known as The Fabulous Courettes! Husband and wife duo Flavia & Martin Couri have been wowing crowds with their explosive high energy brand of 60’s girl pop & garage rock for nigh on 10 years. The stylish drum and guitar duo have released 3 long players and a string of cool 7 inchers, all recorded in mono with the coolest, collectable cover art a fan could desire. And the fuzzy, melody strong tunes back up the image tenfold. With more potential radio hits than their contemporaries could muster in a full career, and a live reputation to match, The Courettes should be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, yet they remain rooted firmly in the underground scene. Ssshh, don’t tell anybody though, as it’s our little secret!
Promoting new single ‘Tough Like That’ and with a new compilation record ‘Boom! Dynamite’ on the merch table, this is their first visit to Leeds and my first time witnessing the band, let’s see if they live up to the hype.
Before the main event we have a band who are not on my radar to warm us up. Nervous Twitch are a colourful Leeds based trio, a fiercely independent band with 5 albums under their collective belt. They combine a 60’s girl group sound with surf and punk, yet sound dynamically different to The Courettes. This is more British indie punk sound, like Fuzzbox or The Slits. What both bands do have in common though are great melodies, familiar riffs and hummable tunes that stick in the mind.
Singer/bassist Erin used to be the drummer, and in her quirky, coloured 60’s hat & dress combo and surf green Danelectro Longhorn bass, she sorta looks like a punk rock Paloma Faith, in stark contrast to guitarist Jay in his baseball cap and stripey t shirt. They sound great too, ‘The likes of ‘History Of The Wild West’ and ‘We Don’t Care’ are short, sharp and sweet blasts of nonchalant punk pop with hooks aplenty, and with plenty around me singing the words, it would seem they have the fanbase too.
I’ve not heard them before but now Nervous Twitch are on my radar I will be back for more. Very impressive stuff.
It’s the hottest day of the year and I was prepared for a sweat-fest in the notoriously humid Brudenell tonight. But you know what? It wasn’t that sweaty at all! One of the few good things to come out covid times was the addition of air con in venues, and while there was definitely no need for a coat tonight, the cool air was a welcome addition to one of the most energetic shows of the year.
Heartbeat of the band Martin Couri introduces his guitar slinging wife with a swish of the hand to great applause. The applause ceases as he takes to his minimalistic set of drums stage front, and reaches out his hand, his drumstick held tightly parallel to a stage that is about to be drenched in his own sweat and spit. His gaze is fixed firmly out to his audience who are silently waiting in anticipation, then the duo blast into a frantic ‘Hoodoo Hop’…. Holy shit! As he bashes seven shades of shit out of his kit with that iconic beat, Flavia immediately takes the attention. In a black and white 60’s go-go dress, matching make-up and her vintage red guitar strapped to her waist, she looks like the daughter Jack White and Olivia Jean would absolutely die for, and she has the energy and stage presence I was hoping for. With a gritty rasp like Lulu in her prime and a guitar tone to die for, she wows the crowd and pulls all the iconic rock star poses any photographer would hope. Pay attention all you bands out there, this is how you do it, ok?
The hits keep a comin’ and the energy levels do not drop for one second. ‘The Boy I Love’ is pure 60’s girl group goodness, with a garage rock riff you know you’ve heard before. It’s like the ghost of Phil Spector shines down on the duo. Everything is a bit familiar and it’s delivered with the raw, primal power you want from any live rock n’ roll band. ‘Hop The Twig’ with its Duane Eddy surf guitar and tambourine bashin’ is about as primal and flashy as I like my rock n roll, and I love it. Live, it’s extended and jammed out giving Flavia a chance to venture out into the audience.
Flavia is a charismatic and energetic leader and her husband is a powerhouse drummer. They are both engaging, push for crowd interaction and make it way more than just a gig, this is The Fabulous Courettes and it’s a rock n’ roll show delivered in the tradition of how bands used to entertain their audience. Their mission is to make you leave your phone in your pocket, cease talking to your mates, and pay attention. The Courettes want you to get lost in the moment and dance like no one is watching. And that is exactly what happens. A few songs in, Flavia invites all the girls to the safe space down the front, she wants them all dancing, and the ladies do just that. ‘Want You like A Cigarette’ gets the biggest reaction, and fair play, so it should. All handclaps and pop-tastic melodies, how could you not sing and dance your little socks off!
For all their pop goodness The Courettes have an equal amount of garage rock goodness going on. ‘Boom Dynamite’ is a killer slice of punk rock energy. With Martin’s primal beats and cool hollering mixed with Flavia’s fuzzy guitar and sexy rasp, it is a high energy set highlight. There ain’t no encore, the band just keep playing their glorious tunes. “Let’s have a party, it’s the end of the world” is Flavia’s invitation in ‘Misfits & Freaks” and yeah, I’m with her tonight.
Live music should be something that transcends your daily life. An escape from whatever troubles and tribulations we find ourselves in. When it’s stripped back, raw and primal and when a band gives it 110% there truly is nothing better in my mind. And if there is a party to be had at the end of the world, I would want The Courettes to open proceedings. Do not miss them if they come your way, you can thank me later.
Author: Ben Hughes