The idea that the French language and rock music are mutually exclusive idioms is not unheard of, but that scarcely seemed the case when the Paris-based ensemble Les Negresses Vertes performed at the Bayou Monday night.
Not that the 10-member ensemble draws all of its inspiration from rock traditions. On the contrary, it draws from just about every style imaginable -- cabaret, Gypsy and flamenco melodies, North and West African dance music, Afro-Cuban rhythms, American funk and blues, you name it. But in concert at least, the band's greatest asset is the way it mixes all of its influences together with rock-ish abandon.
Taking a cue from its American debut album "Mlah," the group opened with a brief accordion waltz before lead vocalist Helno took over the reins and the ensemble's unusually vibrant blend of brass, keyboards, percussion and guitars built to a dizzying and exultant pitch on "La Danse des Negresses Vertes," "Le Pere Magloire" and several other tunes. By evening's end, his shirt wide open and drenched with perspiration, the endearingly klutzy Helno uncorked a bottle of mineral water and, with a few awkward swings, cooled off many of the fatigued dancers crowding the stage.