The Kills, La Cigale, Paris

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The Independent Culture

It can be a cruel mistress, the zeitgeist. At the start of the year, Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart's obsession with rebel poses and Beat aesthetics gained them entry to Franz Ferdinand's art rock explosion.

It can be a cruel mistress, the zeitgeist. At the start of the year, Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart's obsession with rebel poses and Beat aesthetics gained them entry to Franz Ferdinand's art rock explosion. With their second album Now Wow, they found a niche between the off kilter passions of PJ Harvey and The Cramps' camp theatrics. Now the return of Britpop's more mainstream tastes has marginalised everything The Kills stand for.

Yet their interest in rock's self-mythologising could explain the Anglo-American duo's warmer welcome in France, where they sell more records and where an appreciative crowd lapped up the psychosexual tensions played out on stage.

This was despite the inability at first of the pair's guitars to fill the airy reaches of this elegant theatre, set fittingly at the heart of sleazy Pigalle. In their own version of the White Stripes' love-hate relationship, Hince aimed his guitar at the crowd before glaring at his on-stage partner. It was a cue for the pair to jerk their bodies toward each other with suggestive rhythms in time with the juddering chords.

Mosshart growled dark tales with feline menace, an achievement for someone with such a slight frame. The US half of the group tapped into her home country's evocative imagery. At best, dangerous roads and train wrecks evoked all-consuming passions, though just as often the Americana clichés felt distinctly half-baked. Between numbers, the shy vocalist hid behind her fringe while Hince mumbled platitudes.

Volume was increased just in time for new single "Love Is a Deserter", an infectious mix of dirty, fuzzy beats and gnarly guitar licks. As the protean rhythms pulled us along, it mattered not that Hince punctured the duo's pretence when he inserted the one-finger synth line from disco mainstay "Funkytown". He pulled off the same trick again later with a snatch of Spandau Ballet's early new romantic hit "To Cut a Long Story Short".

In between, they thrilled the Gallic crowd with a slow, squalling cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Chanson de Slogan". Then the group unleashed their swaggering anthem "Fuck the People", with its tribal drum pattern and a refrain that could have world leaders quaking in Edinburgh next month.

To ram home the point, Mosshart ended the gig stretched across the floor as Hince hovered menacing above her. Finally, The Kills presented a disturbing spectacle that matched their sinister promise.

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