Live Review: Nite Jewel

23 October 2017 | 11:53 am | Guido Farnell

"The vibe is effortlessly cruisy and appropriately luxe."

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At their very best, Friday Nights at NGV feel like one big and very chic party. Tonight is no exception and the gallery is humming as flocks of fashionistas queue to view Christian Dior's now classic and distinctly Parisian take on haute couture. Stepping into Dior's fantasy of frocks feels like a step back in time and into a ritzy boutique selling elegant daywear that brings to mind the kind of stuff that Doris Day might have worn in many of her movies. Through the exhibition there is a strong focus on female shapes and iconic-but-rigidly corseted silhouettes. Designs from Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre and Yves Saint Laurent all speak to the lavish legacy of Dior.

After the fantasy of Viktor & Rolf's recent exhibition, this Dior exhibition takes its time to slide into complete couture fancy. The imaginative designs of John Galliano's breathtaking ball gowns are among the best hand-stitched work to have emerged from the House Of Dior. As we take in Miranda Kerr's wedding dress, a couple of ladies next to us are debating whether Galliano's career will be given a second chance as he continues to seek atonement that drunken anti-Semitic rant some years back. Under the crystalline reflections of glitzy chandeliers and mirror balls, the crowd seems to sashay through the last room of the exhibition to a cocktail lounge music soundtrack while taking in an eye-popping extravaganza of evening gowns.

This exhibition almost perfectly sets the scene for Nite Jewel, who is also known as Ramona Gonzalez. Sadly, she seems to have only pulled a small crowd of fans, with more people in the foyer preferring to listen casually while chatting with friends and sipping champagne. A completely independent artist who works without the assistance of a label, it is hard not to wonder whether Gonzalez's music has the reach her work deserves. Tonight, she's preaching to the converted fanboys. In the velveteen folds of In The Nite, Gonzalez coos and confesses she goes out at night looking for you. The vibe is effortlessly cruisy and appropriately luxe. Playing on synths, Gonzalez is supported by a friend who bangs out much of the mix, which feels a little minimal and dry in places. Tonight's show doesn't particularly showcase her new album Real High, rather we are treated to a greatest-hits show that gathers together the best bits of her back catalogue. Things come together brilliantly on the Dam-Funk collaboration Let Me Be Me, which works the crowd with plenty of bounce. Taking off her red felt trench coat to play the rest of the set in a body stocking elicits a whole lot of woofs from men in the audience. It's a response that feels a little awkward in light of the recent Me Too hashtags.

Even though Nite Jewel is experimenting with new-school R&B, her music is deeply influenced by '80s electro-pop and synth presets that pay homage to the likes of Depeche Mode. It's here where Gonzalez starts to bring to mind early Madonna, her bleached hair revealing blonde ambition as she pulls a few pop star moves. The repetitive collaboration with Omar S, Confess To U works up a harder, beat-driven vibe. Cuts like One Second Of Love and Want You Back drop the delicious synth-pop confection everyone expects.

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