Nite Jewel is Ramona Gonzalez from Los Angeles, California. Live she plays with a band of three musicians covering drums, bass, guitar and additional keyboards. In cute blue pumps, see-through-shirt and costume chain necklaces her songs are as retro as her outfit – Madonna circa 1982 but more “smooth lounge” and less “dance pop”. Kind of like Madonna played by Molly Ringwald. Her vocals are competent and pretty, reminiscent of Debbie Gibson or Susanna Hoffs. The loungy pop quality of her music feels like it would be more at home in a ritzy hotel lounge than the Monarch – an old man/ hipster bar nestled amongst graffiti above Kotbusser Tor.
The majority of the set was a deliverance of new songs. By the uncertainty of the instrumentation and the vocals, I got the impression these songs were as new to the band as to the audience. Only when Nite Jewel announced a switch to older material did it feel like the band members were enjoying themselves. They were immediately more comfortable on stage and the instrumentation went from shaky to sure. They loosened up and played with flair… for the next 20 minutes or so.
And then it was over – a brief 40 minutes of music. Considering the surprisingly short set, the lack of an opening act and the 10 euro price tag, this gig really should have been more of a show and less of a vehicle for Nite Jewel to test out new material on paying fans. Overall I felt like I was watching an expensive rehearsal.
Words, Video & Images: Tristen Bakker